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Dean's monthly update

May 2005

April 2005 has been my most interesting month since joining SFOS.  I made my first venture to Juneau during the legislative session to meet with Alaska state legislators about the facility needs of the school.  Some of you may have heard me joke that Mississippi and Alaska actually have the same state legislature; it just meets in two places at once.  I still hold that opinion.

On Wednesday April 6, Fisheries Division Director Bill Smoker and I hosted a tour for several legislators who visited the UAS Anderson Building and toured the UAF Lena Point construction site. We are going to build a $20M laboratory and office complex at Lena Point for the Fisheries Division.  Attendees on the tour were Rep. Bruce Weyhrauch (R – Juneau), Rep. Jim Holm (R- Fairbanks) and Sen. Kim Elton (D-Juneau) made the tour along with one of Elton's staff, Jesse Kiehl. The legislative tour was set up by Ann Ringstad, Associate Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Community Engagement, and the legislative visits were arranged by Heather McCarty of McCarty and Associates, a member of the SFOS Advisory Council.

Over a two day period, Bill and I visited the following legislators and others to inform them of SFOS facility needs, especially at Lena Point.

We will know if we did any good when the legislature wraps up its session this month.

From Juneau, I went directly to Seattle to participate in a North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) meeting concerning a Bering Sea initiative.  Mark Johnson attended as the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) representative.  Other participants include scientist from NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) which is, oddly, based in Seattle.  The purpose of the meeting was to plan a Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research project that NPRB will fund over the next five to ten years.  This program could be a significant research opportunity for several SFOS units.  The team writing the white paper that will turn into a request for proposals includes IMS faculty Terry Whitledge and Mark Johnson.  While at the NOAA center in Seattle, I ran into Vera Alexander who was there to chair a PICES meeting in the same building.

Back in Fairbanks the Provost Council was cancelled this month and that left time to attend several other meeting of interest.  The Enrollment Management Committee is trying to determine how we will educate more students at UAF with less state funding in the future.  The IT Council is trying to determine how it will deliver a higher level of computer and communications services at UAF with less state funding in the future.  The Vice Chancellor for Research and Development (VCRED) search committee is trying to determine whether it can find the right person to find the money to solve the issues of the first two committees.  The VCRED search has changed and Chancellor Jones is now seeking a Director of Research, a three year position for which an internal search has been initiated.

Molly McCammon, Executive Director of the Alaska Ocean Observing System visited SFOS on April 25 with Dr. Carl Schoch, Science Director of the Oil Spill Recovery Institute in Cordova.  They met with various SFOS and UAF groups interested in the ocean observing initiative being undertaken in Alaska waters.  SFOS faculty, led by Mark Johnson, were awarded $1.3M in NOAA funds for ocean observing this year.  Molly asked me to serve as the Chair of the AOOS Data Management and Communications (DMAC) committee.  From my perspective, this is not the most exciting AOOS committee, but one vitally important to its success.  I attended an AOOS DMAC committee meeting in Mississippi several years ago.  I am only here today because there were no sharp objects available to me during the second day of that meeting.  I declined the chance to be the AOOS DMAC Chair.

I spent the last work day of April in Anchorage attending the Alaska SeaLife Center Board Meeting.  UA President Mark Hamilton also attended as the other UA representative.  The meeting was held on the top floor of the Denali Tower in a sun-filled conference room with large windows overlooking the mountains around Anchorage.  Life is good now that spring is here.