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Graduate Student Profile: Emmanuel Vera Cruz
By Ian Courter

After graduating high school in 1980, Emmanuel Vera Cruz recognized that aquaculture presented an opportunity to conduct research in a new and rapidly developing field. Native to the Philippines, he saw many ways to improve aquaculture in his country. This inspired him to attain a Masters degree from Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in 1991, and he currently pursues his doctorate in Aquaculture from Florida International University (FIU).
According to Vera Cruz, the Philippines are gifted with an abundance of available land and water resources ideal for many types of aquaculture. However, the conflicts between aquaculture and other forms of agriculture have slowed growth and limited the resources available to aquaculturists. Vera Cruz believes that disputes over land, feeds, and labor have been key factors in limiting the growth of aquaculture in the Philippines. In addition, pollution of important bodies of water caused by poor aquaculture practices and industrial contaminants also suppress aquaculture's popularity and productivity in the region.
Vera Cruz hopes to play an important role in remedying some of the problems with aquaculture in the Philippines. The
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CRSP project he is involved with titled, "Cost Containment Options for Tilapia Production in Central Luzon, Republic of the Philippines," is uncovering ways to reduce operating costs and increase the profit of tilapia farming. To date, the project has successfully evaluated the methods and technologies available to local aquaculturists. One finding was that traditional feeding quantities might be greater than necessary to optimize profitability.
All production studies encounter a similar problem—not enough time or resources to collect adequate data. Conventional methods of growth rate analysis require tedious measurements of body weight over time. Another CRSP investigation that Vera Cruz is working on could provide the solution. The idea is that IGF-I measurements can assess growth rate much more quickly than conventional body size measurements. The project is still underway.
With help from his advisor Christopher Brown of FIU and collaborating researcher Russell Borski of North Carolina State University, Vera Cruz hopes to overcome the challenges of assessing the correlation between tissue concentration of IGF-I and growth rate. To do this, a complex RNAse protection assay will be performed. Although difficult to precisely execute, the assay is the most exciting aspect of his research thus far. Before analyzing tissue samples from the field, Vera Cruz will establish the accuracy of the procedure on tissues with known concentrations of IGF-I.
After graduation, Vera Cruz plans on continuing his research on Nile tilapia. He believes that, "Nile tilapia are the most promising freshwater fish species in the Philippines for the new millennium." Vera Cruz will return home after his project is finished at FIU. He hopes to continue his research at the CLSU, Freshwater Aquaculture Center in the Philippines.image21.gif
Emmanuel Vera Cruz
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Jacques Rinchard and Kyle Ware from Ohio State's Aquaculture Laboratory measure fatty acid concentration of fish tissues.
Ohio State Aquaculture
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and diet formulation of tilapia and nutritional requirements of garfish have enormous practical applications to the fish farmers and to fish stocking programs implemented by the State of Tabasco. Numerous town meetings and workshops are planned to discuss the best approaches for technology transfer of the current research results.image20.gif
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