About

In the 1990s researchers with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife) identified the introduction and spread of Myxobolus cerebralis, the cause of Trout Whirling Disease, as the main factor in a precipitous decline in numerous trout populations across Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region. The complex two-host life cycle of the parasite (fish and tubifex worms), together with laborious microbiological assays made detection of M. cerebralis in hatchery fish or stream populations difficult and unreliable. It was during this time that Dr. John Wood recognized the role that molecular genetics techniques could play in defining and limiting the spread of Whirling Disease, as well as many other issues in fisheries biology, inspiring him to found Pisces Molecular LLC in 1997.
Since then, Pisces Molecular has tested over 165,000 samples, designed dozens of PCR and qPCR assays, developed numerous genetic marker sets, and led or participated in a variety of research projects. Pisces Molecular is passionate about the application of molecular genetics techniques – from the tried and true, to the latest state of the art – in the areas of fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology. Pisces has worked with federal, state and local wildlife and land management agencies across the United States and internationally to assist with disease testing, determining species ID and purity, invasive and endangered species monitoring, and a variety of other fisheries and wildlife projects.
As biologists, we recognize the intricacies and interconnectivity of ecosystems. We believe the rapid development and expanding power of molecular genetic techniques can provide powerful tools for deciphering and understanding the complexities of ecosystems and play a role in the advancement of wildlife and conservation efforts around the world. Pisces Molecular welcomes inquiries for testing issues or research and development opportunities within the fisheries, wildlife and conservation communities.

Who We Are

John Wood, President and Founder of Pisces Molecular

John Wood holds a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Washington. Early career positions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, both in the U.S. and Japan, led to growing frustration with the long timelines between laboratory research projects and real-world applications. This, together with the widely publicized spread of Trout Whirling Disease in Colorado in the late 1990’s, led to the realization that there were few applications of modern molecular genetics techniques in the areas of fisheries and wildlife. This galvanized the founding of Pisces Molecular LLC in 1997 and the development and commercialization of the first PCR diagnostic assay widely used in fisheries – an assay for detecting M. cerebralis, the causative agent of Whirling Disease. The success of this assay and follow-on assays (more than 25,000 samples tested to date and still continuing) guided involvement in an ever-wider variety of fisheries and wildlife issues including disease detection, endangered and invasive species management, species identification, purity or hybridization determination, sex ID assays and recently gene editing for parasite resistance.
John is the Chief Scientist/Geneticist at Pisces with a focus on applying the molecular genetic techniques to problems arising in the aquaculture, fisheries, wildlife and conservation arenas. John leads the Pisces staff with a strong commitment to rigor and integrity, both scientifically and in business. It is this leadership that sets Pisces apart in the wildlife and conservation field and has provided the Pisces team with ever-expanding opportunities to diversify their knowledge of new molecular biology techniques and wildlife and conservation issues. John is dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and enjoys working directly with customers to help them achieve their goals on a wide range of research questions.
In addition to his dedication to science, John enjoys hiking, climbing, biking, diving, sailing - any outdoor adventures, home automation and restoring an old airplane (a 1946 Aeronca Chief 11AC). An avid reader, John is always seeking to learn more and undertake new experiences both in his work and personal life.

Patrick Power

Patrick Power is a Research Scientist at Pisces Molecular. Originally from Florida, Patrick moved to Colorado in his 20’s and found his love of nature to be a driving force in his decision to study Wildlife Biology. Upon completion of his Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Wildlife Biology from Colorado State University, Patrick spent two seasons with the Colorado Division of Wildlife Boreal Toad recovery team, where he was tasked with capturing, marking, assessing survivability, and swabbing individual boreal toads. Following that experience, Patrick joined the Pisces Molecular team, where over the course of 20 years, he has honed his skills in the areas of DNA Sanger Sequencing, Genotyping techniques (AFLP, Microsatellite), Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR), and qPCR assay development. Patrick takes pride in his work and staying current on emerging techniques within the molecular biology field and hopes to expand his knowledge further with the anticipated introduction of Next Generation Sequencing to the Pisces Molecular offerings. Beyond performing laboratory functions, Patrick serves as mentor and project manager to other members of the Pisces team.
When Patrick is not working on research projects, he enjoys many of the adventures that Colorado has to offer, including camping, mountain biking, and motorcycle riding. He can often be found cycling around the Boulder area. When he is not adventuring in nature, he performs with his band, TEN: Colorado’s Tribute to Pearl Jam.

Sarah Spotten

Sarah Spotten is an Associate Biologist with Pisces Molecular, having joined the team in 2019. Sarah is originally from Southern California but has been calling Colorado home since 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a minor in Computer Science. Sarah brings to Pisces an enthusiasm for helping wildlife using molecular genetics and data science, as well as a breadth of life and career experiences that include web development, retail management, and a previous degree in film. At Pisces, Sarah has become well versed in gel electrophoresis, PCR, and has prepared and extracted DNA from more than 15,000 wildlife and environmental (eDNA) samples of many different types and from many different species. Sarah maintains an interest in bioinformatics and hopes to incorporate that into her work at Pisces.
Outside of Pisces, Sarah is an avid birder passionate about conservation of wildlife and their habitats. She volunteers as a bird surveyor and raptor nest monitor for the City of Longmont, Colorado. An adventurous foodie, Sarah enjoys sampling the various international cuisines she encounters both locally and while exploring new destinations.

Jackson Strobel

Jackson (Jack) Strobel is an Associate Biologist with Pisces Molecular, becoming a full-time team member in early 2022. Jack holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biology with a concentration in Marine Sciences from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Upon the completion of his degree, Jack and his wife, decided to return to Colorado. Having been a lifelong lover of the outdoors, Jack began his career working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife as part of the Aquatic Nuisance Species program. It was during this time that Jack first connected with Pisces Molecular. As his tenure with Colorado Parks and Wildlife came to a close, Jack decided to apply for the open Associate Biologist position at Pisces. As part of the Pisces Molecular lab team, Jack performs a variety of tasks, including the preparation and extraction of DNA from wildlife and environmental (eDNA) samples. He also helps with sample management by ensuring samples are properly labeled and the information is logged correctly in the database.
In his free time, Jack enjoys a variety of hobbies, including birding, writing books, and playing card games. His favorite bird is the Turquoise-browed Motmot. His favorite marine animal is the Hopkin’s Rose. He happily lives in Golden with his wife, dog, and cat.

Tracy Turner

Tracy joined the Pisces team as Office Manager in the summer of 2022. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, (B.A.) in Sociology and a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Liberal and Professional Studies: Labor and Employment Relations. She enjoys learning about the world of aquatic wildlife and the various types of testing that Pisces performs.
Outside of work, she can be found adventuring with her kids and dogs or playing board games.

 

 

 

Ahi & Makai Wood

Ahi (left) and Makai (right) are Portuguese water dogs and Pisces’ mascots. They come to Pisces every day (they can’t stay home due to possible wildfire risk at John’s house in the Boulder foothills). Mostly content to sleep between their outside walks, Makai lets everyone know his concern if the science discussions in the lab get too long and he feels ignored. Their favorite samples are fish heads (tested for Trout Whirling Disease); eDNA filters sometimes have interesting smells; skin swabs (tested for chytrid fungus) elicit little interest.