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We are open for applications!

The Institute of Aquaculture is open for Transnational Access (TNA) to our aquaculture research infrastructure though the EU funded AQUAEXCEL3 programme. The Institute participated in the first (AQUAEXCEL, 2011-2015) and the second (AQUAEXCEL2020, 2015-2020) of these initiatives to provide access to leading aquaculture research infrastructures. We hosted nine TNA projects in the first AQUAEXCEL programme and ten in the second. Within AQUAEXCEL3 (2020-2025) we expect to host around 14 projects, usually involving one visitor spending an average of 7 weeks at the Institute of Aquaculture. This site provides information for potential and current users of the IoA infrastructure and news about the research that is supported here.

Photograph of experimental tanks in the recirculated aquaculture system at the Buckieburn aquarium
Buckieburn RAS tanks

Technician Mobility: Visit of Vasso Terzoglou

Portrait photo of Vasso Terzoglou

The Institute of Aquaculture facilitated the visit of Research Technician, Vasso Terzoglou, from 20th – 28th November 2023, via the AQUAEXCEL3.0 Technician Transnational Mobility Programme. She works in the Biotechnology and Aquaculture Division at the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), Heraklion, Crete, and came to the Institute to gain additional experience in Molecular Biology protocols. The visit also provided an opportunity for her to share information about the activities and facilities available at HCMR, with staff and research students at an Institute of Aquaculture weekly seminar. This was a good reminder of the potential opportunities for future collaborations through AQUAEXCEL or other EU programmes.

Vasso Terzoglou talks about her visit in this short video

AQUAEXCEL Consortium Meet in Budapest

The AQUAEXCEL consortium met in Budapest from 16th-18th October 2023. Sonia Rey Planellas, John Bostock and Mauro Chivite Alcalde joined on behalf of the Institute of Aquaculture. The first day included a session run by Sonia and John to discuss issues arising from the recent evaluation of the TNA management system and on the second day there were sessions on collaboration with other intrastructure projects and on the scientific work of AQUAEXCEL including Workpackage 6 “Improvements of fish welfare in experiments and industry” involving Sonia and Mauro. The meeting also included a session on ethics led by Professor Felicity Huntingford. The final day involved a visit to the MATE HAKI research facilities in Szarvas, where we learned more about the pond and RAS experimental facilities available for TNA visitors to that infrastructure.

Welcome Sushee Dunn

A big welcome to Sushee Dunn who has joined us as AQUAEXCEL TNA Operations Officer. Sushee has previously worked on multiple projects in a number of environments including health, construction and manufacturing. Latterly, she was Head of Quality, Research and Standards at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and spent a year as senior manager with NHS England supporting challenged Trusts to use structured judgement review of mortality data for rapid quality improvement. Sushee has a latent interest in marine biology and is looking forward to learning more about aquaculture as she manages the TNA application process for the project.

TNA Visit – New feeding strategies to optimize the egg production and the fry robustness in rainbow trout

In April 2023, Emilie Cardona and Sandra Skiba-Cassy from INRAE (The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment) visited the Institute of Aquaculture to work with Matthew Sprague on the AQUAEXCEL transnational access project “MIRAGE”. The project is concerned with determining the optimal ratio of essential fatty acids (particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) in broodstock rainbow trout in order to increase their robustness, reproductive performance and quality of their eggs. The study is needed as fishmeal and fish oil have become more expensive and are more frequently substituted with plant-based proteins and oils. The experimental work was carried out in the INRAE NuMeA experimental station located in Lees-Athas whilst the associated analytical work was carried out in the Nutrition laboratories of the Institute of Aquaculture. Emilie and Sandra speak more about the project in the following video.

Emilie Cardona and Sandra Skiba-Cassy introduce the MIRAGE project and work at the Institute of Aquaculture.

We are recruiting!

Photograph of keyboard with yellow sticky note with the label "Now Hiring"

June, 2023 – We are currently recruiting for a part-time Operations Officer to administer all AQUAEXCEL Transnational Access project applications. The post provides for flexible working, mainly involving maintaining contact with AQUAEXCEL Transnational Access applicants, reviewers and facility managers to ensure proposals are smoothly administered through the review process. The post also involves supporting the TNA Project Coordinator in preparing routine reports analysing the access that is provided under the project. The closing date for applications is 22nd June. Further details can be found at https://www.stir.ac.uk/about/work-at-stirling/list/details/?jobId=3635&jobTitle=Operations%20Officer%20(Research)

Thank You Kirsten

Kirsten Strachan, who was first recruited to the role of TNA Administrator in 2016 under the AQUAEXCEL2020 programme, retired at the end of April 2023. Colleagues at the Institute and across the AQUEXCEL community expressed their sadness that she was leaving the project, but also their best wishes for many happy years ahead. As the many greetings in her leaving card testified, Kirsten was always cheerful, patient and a great pleasure to work with. She efficiently steered projects through the complexities of the TNA application and review process and supported both applicants and reviewers through the frustrations of their tasks. She will be much missed by all of us, so Thank You Kirsten and Happy Retirement!

Image of leaving card with signed messages

TNA Visit – Andrea Bertini

In early 2023, Andrea Bertini a PhD researcher from the University of Trento in Italy, visited the Institute of aquaculture for collaborative research as part of the AQUAEXCEL Transnational Access to Research Infrastructures Programme.

Andrea’s research focus is on aquaculture nutrition and in particular the study of novel sustainable ingredients and their application into aquafeed formulation. The purpose of his visit was to use the specialist facilities at the Institute of Aquaculture to investigate the production of eicosanoid signalling molecules by fish in response to different dietary ingredients. These molecules are known to play a primary role in the regulation of several physiological and immunological processes in fish.

Whilst at the Institute of Aquaculture, Andrea was able to use the facilities of the molecular laboratory including a Q-PCR machine allowing 384 samples to be analysed in a single run. As the experimental design required evaluating the expression of multiple genes involved in eicosanoid production in multiple samples collected at different times, this machine helped to save a lot of time. Andrea also made use of the nutrition laboratory and in particular the liquid chromatography mass spectrometry device to quantify the concentration of eicosanoids in each sample and correlate it with the gene expression analysis.

At the University of Stirling, Andrea worked with Dr Monica Betancor and Dr Richard Broughton along with Technicians and other PhD and Postdoctoral researchers.

AQUAEXCEL Consortium Meet in Heraklion

Photograph of staff from Stirling attending the meeting in Heraklion
Stirling Staff attending the meeting: John Bostock, Amaya Albalat, Sonia Rey Planellas, Kirsten Strachan and (not shown) Pamela Prentice

The AQUAEXCEL Consortium Annual Meeting was held in Heraklion, Crete from 18-20th October 2022. The Institute of Aquaculture was represented by Sonia Rey Planellas, Amaya Albalat, Pamela Prentice, Kirsten Strachan and John Bostock. It was a busy meeting with staff running a practical workshop on using the ARIA TNA application management system and actively participating in workshops on managing transnational access and on technological tools for improved experimental procedures. Sonia Rey Planellas also attended the Executive Committee meeting. On the final afternoon, the team also had the opportunity to visit the marine research aquarium facilities of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR). The project is progressing well and there are still many opportunities for transnational access projects to most of the 40 installations.