Ken Cain Wins Mid-Career Faculty Award
Fishery Resources professor Ken Cain is one of this year’s recipients of the President’s Mid-Career Faculty Award.
This award, established in 2012, acknowledges faculty, usually during the early to middle stage of their career, who have demonstrated a commitment to outstanding scholarship, teaching and engagement.
Recipients of this award are considered to be among the University of Idaho’s most gifted faculty members. They are selected because they serve as role models and a source of inspiration for students and because their scholarship or creative activities contribute to the intellectual development and lives of people in Idaho and globally.
“It’s really nice to be recognized and get some kudos,” Cain said. “More than that, it’s having people realize that the work you’re doing is important.”
“Ken’s award reaffirms CNR’s commitment to using science to address natural resource management issues around the world,” said College of Natural Resources Dean Kurt Pregitzer. “His research into reducing the impacts of disease on the aquaculture industry has had a global impact.”
Cain has been a part of CNR since 1999. He is also associate director of U-Idaho’s Aquaculture Research Institute, where his work on fish vaccines has won him national renown. Throughout his career he has worked with public and private sector fish hatcheries. While at U-Idaho, he has developed a strong research program focused on preventing, diagnosing and controlling fish disease through various methods.
“I tend to lean more towards taking basic research and doing something that’s applied and practical,” Cain said. “Aquaculture and hatchery programs just need more tools to use. They have a very limited set of things they can do. If disease happens it can be devastating – they can lose as much as 50% of the harvest in a year. It’s a really big deal.”
In 2010, Cain, Benjamin R. LaFrentz, research molecular biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, and Scott LaPatra, director of research and farm services at Clear Springs Foods, Inc. in Buhl, Idaho, collaboratively developed a Cold Water Disease vaccine that was recently patented by the University of Idaho. The disease is regarded as the No. 1 problem for Idaho’s trout industry, resulting in $9-10 million annual losses and up to a 30 percent reduction in yield.
Cain has received national recognition for licensed technology leading to commercialization of specific tools that can aid in the diagnosis of fish diseases. He is currently working with probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, researching their potential to increase disease resistance in fish.
Cain is also working with the Kootenai Tribe on a burbot conservation program, trying to raise the fish, also known as Idaho cod, in captivity in order to restore the population to the Kootenai River. The idea behind this long-term project is that, at some point in the future, the hatchery will be downscaled and the tribe will be able to harvest the burbot. “The ultimate goal is conservation and restoration of the species,” he said.