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Dean's monthly update

February 2006

Because of some significant developments in early February, this report will cover activities in January and the first half of February and is longer that usual. On February 6, we learned that the FY07 federal budget submitted by the President to Congress included a request to fund the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) as part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) budget.  While Congress must still fund the $97M vessel, we have cleared a significant hurdle in obtaining this major asset for the oceanographic community.  The design specifications for the 236 ft. ARRV that were delivered to NSF in December 2004 can be found at www.sfos.uaf.edu/arrv. As the first effort to provide a new Arctic research vessel began in 1976 with the first design completed in 1980, many have long awaited this announcement.  Congratulations to Vera Alexander, Terry Whitledge, Bob Elsner, Tom Smith, Tom Weingartner and our colleagues at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who have labored (some for decades) to get us to this point.  I will be traveling to Washington, DC in early March to meet with program managers and Congressional staff to encourage funding of the vessel this year.

My first trip of 2006 was to Washington, DC from January 8-11 where I participated in a meeting of the Ocean Council.  The Ocean Council has ten elected members, five from CORE and five from the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI), whose goal is to develop a plan for merging CORE and JOI into a new organization that will advocate for the ocean community with one voice.  Some progress was made and the plan will be presented to the CORE Board of Governors in March.

While in DC, I was able to have dinner SFOS Advisory Council (AC) members Jim Balsiger and Heather McCarty.  Jim is in DC on assignment as the Deputy Director of NOAA Fisheries.  I also met with AC Chair David Policansky on January 11 to plan the AC meeting that will be held in Juneau April 20-21.  A trip to DC never seems complete without visiting NOAA in Silver Spring.  I met with Gary Matlock, Director of NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), to discuss the UAF-NOAA partnership under which we operate the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory.July 7, 2006Undersea Research Program (NURP) to discuss funding for the SFOS West Coast and Polar Regions Undersea Research Center.  To assure my time was fully utilized during this trip, Heather McCarty arranged for a meeting with Jim Gilmore, Public Affairs Director of the At-Sea Processors Association (APA).  The APA companies also make up the Pollock Conservation Cooperative (PCC) that donates more that $1.0M per year to SFOS.  The PCC has been nominated for a NOAA Sustainable Fisheries Leadership Award and we are supporting their nomination.

Shortly after I returned from DC, I received news that Dr. David Christie had accepted our offer to be the Director of our NURP center.  Dave is currently a Professor of Marine Geology and Geophysics at Oregon State University.  His research interests include the geochemistry of oceanic volcanoes and interactions of mid-ocean ridge petrology, morphology and tectonics.  He has been involved in numerous Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) cruises and was involved with the RIDGE program. Dave and his wife, Anne, will be joining us in Fairbanks on June 1.

SFOS was well represented at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage January 22 to 25.  I enjoyed hearing presentations by SFOS faculty members Mark Johnson, Russ Hopcroft, Stephen Okkonen, Alexander Burdin, Dave Musgrave and Bodil Bluhm. Recent SFOS graduate Shiway Wang presented her thesis research and many former students made presentations to the over 400 in attendance.  Shannon Atkinson was the emcee for one of the sessions and AC member Heather McCarty for another.  To make sure I stayed in Anchorage, the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center (PCCRC), chaired by Vera Alexander, met in Anchorage on January 26 to hear reports and evaluate proposals for funding.  The PCCRC allocated almost $300,000 to fund SFOS faculty proposals this year.  Congratulations to Brenda Konar, Gordon Kruse, Tony Gharrett, and Paula Cullenberg on the success of your PCCRC proposals.  I finished the week in Anchorage attending the Alaska SeaLife Center Board of Directors meeting on January 27.

The next week (January 30 – February 1) I was off to Unalaska to meet with the seafood processors there and to visit with community leaders about SFOS activities.  MAP faculty member Reid Brewer was my host.  Since he arrived in March 2004, I believe Reid has gotten to know every person in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor.  I was impressed with his total involvement in the community.  When I suggested to City of Unalaska Mayor Shirley Marquart that Reid might run for mayor, she quickly replied that he did not have the required masochistic nature to be mayor.  Don Graves from UniSea, Inc. provided us with a complete (two hour) tour of the UniSea processing facilities for pollock and crab.  We also had useful meetings Greg Peters of Alyeska Seafoods and Dave Boisseau of Westward Seafoods.  Some of you may remember Dave from his days working for the Institute of Marine Science (IMS).  I also had a chance to meet Jerah Chadwick from the UAF College of Rural and Community Development and Sharon Svarny-Livingston, Co-administrator of the Qawalangin Tribe.  My public lecture on Tuesday evening described SFOS research activities and the plans for the ARRV.  The 20 or so people attending the presentation were especially interested in the ARRV, as it will be going in and out of Dutch Harbor on the way to the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. Thanks again to Reid for arranging my trip, keeping the flights on schedule and showing me every eating establishment in Unalaska.

I was in San Diego on February 6 when I learned the news that the ARRV had been included in the FY07 federal budget.  San Diego was the first stop on a week-long trip that included Seattle and was supposed to include Seward, location of the Tsunami Bowl, the Alaska version of the National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB).  In San Diego (February 6-8) I attended a Development for Dean’s conference sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) where I learned about the “development cycle” and how to make the “artful ask.”  Private support of SFOS activities is important to provide the margin of excellence for our programs and we are working to improve our development activities as noted next.

Chancellor Steve Jones hosted a reception for the Pollock Conservation Collaborative (PCC) companies in Seattle on February 9.  Many PCC company CEOs attended along with members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Advisory Panel, and Science and Statistics Committee who were meeting at the SeaTac Doubletree Hotel.  At the reception, President’s Professor of Fisheries Gordon Kruse described the research he has been able to accomplish with PCC funding. Steve Jones and I thanked the PCC companies for their support of both SFOS research and for their endowment of the Ted Stevens Distinguished Professorship in Marine Policy. We anticipate announcing the Ted Stevens Professor within the next week and he was able to attend the reception in Seattle.

You may have heard that the Tsunami Bowl had some weather related difficulties.  Avalanches on the Seward Highway kept most of the teams from reaching Seward on the first day of the contest (Friday, February 10).  The research paper presentations were conducted using the University of Alaska video teleconferencing system with teams in Seward, Anchorage, and Kenai.  I attended the presentations of the Unalaska Raiders and Cordova Flatfish teams in Anchorage.  The next day, some of the teams made it to Seward, but others were turned back at Girdwood as a series of avalanches closed the road again.  Only five of the ten teams were able to complete the entire competition with the Seward Shrimp Hawks winning by 0.3 points (out of 100) over the Juneau Zissou team.

You can always count on something (erupting volcanoes, avalanches, etc.) to make travel in Alaska more challenging than anywhere else.

Denis