Committees and Advisory Board

Sarah_TaberSarah Taber, DPM, Director
Food Safety Committee

Contact Sarah

The Food Safety Committee is responsible for exploring how food safety concerns associated with raising plants and fish are different from traditional agriculture and aquaculture and identifying good agricultural practices for aquaponic growers.

Dr. Sarah Taber graduated with a Doctorate in Plant Medicine from the University of Florida in 2011. Since that time she has been involved in post-doctorate research identifying cytoplasmically-inherited traits in southern highbush blueberry and quantifying yield loss resulting from inbreeding depression when flowers are self-pollinated.

While performing market research in preparation for her own aquaponics system, Sarah determined the lack of information about food safety as the single factor preventing widespread adoption of aquaponics. As Food Safety Director, Sarah states her primary missions are to:

  • Identify primary food safety risks in aquaponic systems;
  • Spearhead the research process to obtain information about pathogen levels in AP systems and develop in-situ pathogen control methods;
  • Develop partnerships with universities, retailers, food safety auditing bodies, and other stakeholders;
  • Assist AA leadership in developing food safety training materials for growers.

jeffJeff Pernell, Director
Education Committee

Contact Jeff

The Education Committee is charged with developing a variety of curricular materials for K-12 classrooms and colleges, as well as education and information for the backyard hobbyist.

Jeff Pernell has 17 years of experience at many levels in public and private education, including conceptualization, design, implementation and executive oversight of projects for community partnerships, startups, and not-for-profit organizations.

His research in byproduct optimization led him to help companies and municipalities turn waste streams into revenue streams specifically through the implementation of aquaponics food production systems. He recently installed an Aquaponics prototype system at the University of Montana’s Dining Services garden.

Prior to becoming Education Direcotr, Jeff served as Chair for the Northwest Region of the United States.

MichelleDr. Michelle Thomas, Director
Health Committee

Contact Dr. Thomas

The Health Committee is charged with identifying and promoting health benefits related to aquaponics. The Health Committee also supports the Food Safety Committee in explaining the health impacts of unsafe agricultural practices.

Dr. Thomas is a native of New York City who now makes Washington DC her home. She is a physician and entrepreneur married to writer of fiction, Milton Parirsh. Dr. Thomas received from medical education at Rutgers Medical School, Surgery Internship and Residency was completed at The  Brooklyn Hospital and Trauma-Critical Care fellowship at the University of Maryland R. Adams  Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

Dr. Thomas finds gardening has been away for keeping mind-body and spirit in focus. Dr. Thomas was first introduced to intensive multidimensional agriculture and aquaponics by Growing Power Inc. in Milwaukee WI, where she completed Commercial Agriculture Training. Dr. Thomas trained in construction deepwater culture and media-based aquaponics in Hawaii. She has received continued education in aquaponics and aquaculture from The School of Freshwater Sciences University of WI, Great Lakes Institute, University of Hawaii and Brunswick Community College N.C. She leads G Food 4U LLC a development company with the goal to integrate urban agriculture and aquaponics with urban renewal. G Food 4U LLC has a intensive grow and aquaponics hoop house under  construction in partnership with The Urban Farm of Stapleton, Denver CO. In 2012 Dr Thomas was recruited as the Director of the Aquaponics Association Health Committee with efforts to contribute to dissemination of health and science information related to aquaponics, aquaculture, “food as medicine” foodborne illness, food safety, zoonosis, herbal and medicinal horticulture, nutrition and the microbiome.  More health committee members are needed for active participation.

TomBassfordTom Bassford, Director
Programs & Policies Committee

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The Programs and Policy Committee is tasked with directing and managing the Association’s mission and forward momentum.

Tom Bassford is a graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz where he studied Sociology with an emphasis in food security.
As an undergraduate Tom researched the implementation of aquaponic technology in the United States which led to his work with the California Native Garden Foundation in San Jose.  There he constructed and maintained numerous aquaponic systems for the San Jose County school district. In addition, Tom worked with the Foundation’s youth outreach programs to educate high school students in greenhouse production, ecology, economics and water conservation.
Tom also has a background in nonprofit fundraising and small business operations and hopes to utilize his professional experiences in service of the further proliferation of aquaponic technology across the globe.


Christoph Pollatos, Director
2014 and 2015 Conference Committee

Contact Christoph

The Conference Committee plans and presents the annual Aquaponincs Association conference, workshops, tours and membership meeting. The Conference Committee director from 2014 will serve as mentor to the director for the 2015 conference.

For the past six years, Christoph Pollatos has been a serial entrepreneur whose companies’ sole focus is pioneering environmentally sustainable solutions. Currently, he is the President and CEO of BioChar Central, an enterprise that transforms biomass waste streams into useful, profitable organic soil building and water purification products.

Ryan Stockton

Ryan Stock, Director
Certification Committee

Contact Ryan

 The Certification Committee leads the Association’s efforts to develop certification programs, so that  aquaponic growers have a straight forward educational path, which is relevant to the size of their system and the scope of their food production goals. 

Ryan Stock is a vice-president and planning consultant at the Growth Management Center. As a trained planning facilitator and graphic recorder, he assists mid-market businesses to develop or update their strategic and marketing plans. This career has taken him to consulting assignments in more than 20 private-sector industries, both domestically and internationally. He also has planning experience assisting not-for-profits in the farming, outdoor recreation and social services sectors; and several member-based associations. Prior to joining Growth Management Center, he worked extensively with supervisory responsibilities in the recreation and hospitality industries.

His interest in aquaponics stems from a passion for sustainable ocean fisheries, deep concern for availability of clean water, and a commitment to more responsible use of fish as food in traditional aquaculture and emerging aquaponic practices.

Ryan is a graduate of California State University, Monterey Bay, and has volunteered with youth programs in Salinas and Castroville, California. He lives, works and farms in the Santa Cruz mountains of Northern California and enjoys fly fishing California’s rivers and tributaries in his free time.

Daniel Tran, Director
Community and Urban Outreach Committee

Contact Daniel

Elaine Pendergrast and Spencer Curry, Co-Chairs
Newsletter Committee

Contact Elaine & Spencer

Elizabeth Arnold and Christoph Pollatos, Co-Chairs
Membership Committee

Contact Elizabeth & Christoph
The Membership Committee will help further develop the Region and Branch structure while also focusing on member services, recruitment and retention.

Open Director Position

Information Technology

The IT Committee is tasked with directing and managing the Association’s mission and forward momentum.

If interested in this role, contact us.

Open Director Position

Finance and Fundraising Committee

The Finance and Fundraising Committee provides financial oversight of the Association and provides financial advice and counsel to the Executive Team and the Board of Directors.

If interested in this role, contact us.



Advisory Board

Myles Harston

Myles HarstonFounder
AquaRanch, Inc.

Myles is the founder of AquaRanch, the first commercial aquaponics farm to grow tilapia from spawn to fillet and organic produce from seed to retail. Myles has been involved in aquaculture since 1985, and involved in growing aquaponically before it was even called aquaponics.


Glenn Martinez Olomana Gardens

Glenn MartinezOwner
Olomana Gardens

Glenn Martinez has owned and operated Olomana Gardens in Waimanalo, Hawaii since 1996. For many years operated as USDA Certified Organic and pioneered getting many Aquaponic Farms USDA Certified Organic and Primus Food Safety Certified. As a consultant Glenn walks the farm thru the process and does what is necessary to make the farm compliant to the requirements of organic and food safety rules.
As President of the Hawaii Farmers Union, Glenn was instrumental in promoting Farm legislation favorable to the small farmers of Hawaii.
As an Educator, Glenn is on the staff of ATOLL, Aquaculture Training On Line Learning. Glenn produced over 18 training films for the ATOLL program that is offered by University of Hawaii for Certification. The program answers the need for “distance’ learning for Pacific islands and the world for basic training in Aquaculture and Aquaponics. Glenn has completed training courses with Will Allen of Growing Power, Dr. Jim Rakocy of Virgin Island Institute, Friendly Aquaponics on the Big Island, Nelson and Pade Aquaponics, Murray Hallam of Australia.
Glenn and his team have taught in the Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Fiji, Tonga, American Samoa, Samoa, San Juan Purto Rico, and many states on the mainland. Glenn has been the keynote speaker and shared stage with Dr. Rakocy, Murray Hallam and others, teaching in all the places he has traveled to.
Inventor of various patent pending Air Lift systems that pump water and aerate at the same time. Pioneered the double tray/false bottom aquaponic systems, pioneered the “raised floating bed” aquaponic systems, pioneered the remote siphon, pipe siphon, barrel siphons, bucket siphons and the “bubblification” system of aeration with pumped water. Glenn has made all of his “patent pending” applications available immediately and open access to the knowledge for all individuals to use as they see fit, reserving only the “manufacturing” rights to sell fabricated products.
Glenn has worked as the consultant on most of the commercial aquaponic and aquaculture farms in Hawaii. He has set up hundreds of systems from backyard to one acre commercial facilities. Systems have been installed in homeless shelters, residential backyards, orphanages,schools for the deaf, prison systems, commercial farm installations and many high schools and colleges.
Back ground unrelated to Aquaponics, Glenn was a licensed electrician and licensed Contractor in Hawaii from 1974 to 2004. As such did industrial motor control and commercial electrical installations all over the state of Hawaii. Also, he is a License Master (Captain) by the U.S. Coast Guard and owns and operates a Charter sailboat.