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Dean's monthly update

August 2005

July was a month of intense field work for many SFOS faculty. The largest concentration of SFOS researchers was the group who participated in the NOAA Ocean Exploration cruise in the Arctic aboard the USCGC Healy. UAF researchers who took part in the expedition include Drs. Rolf Gradinger, Bodil Bluhm, Russ Hopcroft, Terry Whitledge, Dean Stockwell, and Katrin Iken. UAF graduate students participating were Elisabeth Calvert, Shawn Harper, and Mette Nielson. UAF research technicians include Brenda Holiday and Sarah Thornton. The discoveries resulting from their work were described in a July 31 front page article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and are highlighted on the SFOS web site.

A NOAA review team headed by Dr. John Calder, Director of the NOAA Arctic Research Office, examined our West Coast and Polar Regions Undersea Research Center July 12-14. The team received an introduction to SFOS from me and a detailed presentation of center research activities from Jennifer Reynolds, Interim Director, Brenda Konar and Geoff Wheat. Although their final report has not been received, they commented during the exit meeting that the center staff "should be commended" for their excellent work.

Another highlight of the month was the recognition of some of our faculty for their excellence in research.  University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton hosted a reception at his home in Fairbanks on June 21 for the Board of Regents and some outstanding faculty.  Ray RaLonde (MAP) and Tom Weingartner (IMS) were honored along with Tony Gharrett (Fisheries Division) who made it only as far as Anchorage thanks to Alaska Airlines.

On the national scene, the Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (JOI) and the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE) have agreed to merge into one organization to develop a more coherent and unified approach in supporting the oceans community. I was elected as one of the four CORE representatives to the Ocean Council that will plan the evolution to a single corporation. My reward for this was having to fly to Denver for a July 7 one-day meeting in the airport and repeating the feat in September.

Other travels in July took me to Anchorage on July 21 continuing on to Seward for a July 22 meeting of the Alaska SeaLife Center Board of Directors. In Seward, I had a chance to tour Resurrection Bay aboard the catamaran M/V Keet to see areas where SFOS research faculty conduct their studies. Seward Marine Center Director Tom Smith and I also had a chance to discuss the dock plans for the long-anticipated Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV).

The highlight of my month was a 2.5 day trip to Cordova where MAP agent Torie Baker planned a visit to give me a flavor of the fishing industry in Prince William Sound and to test my stamina. After arriving at 6:00 p.m., we went "out the road" to the Million Dollar Bridge and to see the Childs Glacier. Then we went "up the river" with Bruce Cain of the Native Village of Eyak through the Abercrombie Rapids to see their Baird Canyon salmon research camp on the Copper River. I was impressed with both the Copper River and the salmon tagging operation they are undertaking. Returning after midnight, we continued the next morning with a breakfast with local fishermen and then we were off to the ADF&G office to tour their otolith laboratory. Other highlights of the trip were the visit to the Nelson Bay proposed hatchery site with Jim Kallander, presentations by Nancy Bird, Executive Director, and researchers at the Prince William Sound Science Center, and a float plane trip across Prince William Sound to visit the Main Bay salmon hatchery lead by David Reggiani, General Manager of the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation. We also found time to visit with Cordova Mayor Tim Joyce and dine with R.J. Kopchak, Director of Copper River Ecosystem Program of Ecotrust. I can now safely say that I have seen more salmon than I have eaten.

It took me a little over one year as SFOS Dean to be mentioned in an Alaska front page newspaper article, with a story appearing in the Anchorage Daily News (ADN) on July 22. The article was repeated in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner on July 22 and followed up with an ADN editorial on July 25. While the public learned little about me in these articles, I learned a lot about the Anchorage Daily News. I will be better prepared next time.

Denis