University of Alaska Fairbanks SCHOOL OF FISHERIES AND OCEAN SCIENCES  
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Dean's monthly updates

September 2006

The academic year began to settle down somewhat in September with our new students getting settled in apartments or cabins and many wondering what their first winter in Alaska will be like. Snow in Fairbanks on September 29 and 30 gave them a hint of what is ahead.

Like the rest of the university, the number of graduate students in our degree programs is down slightly. In September 2005 we had 155 graduate students enrolled. This September the total is 130, with 56 in Fisheries, 51 in Marine Biology, 16 in Oceanography and 7 Interdisciplinary students. 38 students are seeking their Ph.D. and 92 are M.S. students. The low number of Oceanography students can be attributed to the number of faculty who have retired and not been replaced in the last few years. In October, we are planning to advertise for two new oceanography faculty: a chemical oceanographer and a geological oceanographer.

Nine new undergraduate Fisheries students joined 17 returning students this semester bringing our total undergraduate enrollment to 26. As twelve of the undergraduates are seniors, we should have a large graduating class this year.

I am pleased to announce that our search for new Fisheries faculty was a great success. Two candidates accepted our offer to join the Fairbanks faculty. Dr. Trent Sutton will join us in June as an Associate Professor of Fisheries. Trent is currently an Associate Professor at Purdue University and will become our Undergraduate Fisheries Coordinator. Dr. Amanda Rosenberger will arrive in Fairbanks on November 10 as an Assistant Professor of Fisheries. Amanda is completing a U.S. Forest Service post-doctoral fellowship at Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, ID. Both Trent and Amanda received their Ph.D.s from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).

Academic Manager Christina Neumann and Katie Murra arranged a graduate student orientation in Fairbanks and Fisheries Division Director Bill Smoker hosted a similar orientation in Juneau followed by a social hour. It seemed like the rest of the month was spent welcoming the new students. Christina and Katie hosted a pizza party for the new graduate students on September 5. Assistant Professor Mat Wooller and Diane O'Brien hosted a potluck social at his Fairbanks home for the new Institute of Marine Science students, staff, and faculty on the evening of September 16. In Juneau, Assistant Professor Nicola Hillgruber hosted a potluck beach bash on September 22. Yet another welcoming function was organized by Christina and Katie, a social gathering for our undergraduate fisheries students on the evening of September 26. In addition to the current Fairbanks Fisheries faculty, Trent Sutton and Amanda Rosenberger (both in town looking for housing) were able to join us. Most of our 26 undergraduates attended along with some other students taking Fisheries courses.

The big non-student news was that the five-member national Performance Assessment Team (PAT) evaluating the Alaska Sea Grant program was impressed with their activities and gave them one of their highest ratings. Sea Grant Director Brian Allee was obviously delighted and noted, "As I reflect on the activities from the Sunday field panel traveling on Stan Stephens boat in Prince William Sound to the exit interview on Thursday afternoon I am struck by the awesome capability of the integrated Alaska Sea Grant staff and MAP faculty and staff." One of the comments they made in the exit interview was that the seabird deterrent extension work with small boat longliners was judged a "best management practice". I was pleased to meet with the PAT and to participate in the exit interview where they declared the Alaska Sea Grant communications effort (publications, videos, etc.) to be "the best in the nation." Congratulations to Brian and all of the team that contributed to this success.

From September 20-22 I attended the North Pacific Research Board Meeting in Anchorage. The NPRB approved a request for proposals for 2007 for $3.895 million which will fund research projects in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean. A second RFP for $12-14 million was approved for the NPRB's Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP). It will request proposals a 6-year comprehensive program from 2007 through 2012-2013, run by a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary team, and may include a partnership with the National Science Foundation. Several SFOS units are preparing a BSIERP proposal in partnership with NOAA. The NPRB also approved an SFOS request to provide $50,000 to support our effort to host the 2008 National Ocean Science Bowl in Seward.

The last week of September was filled with visitors. Trent Sutton arrived over the weekend and Amanda Rosenberger arrived on Monday, September 25. Dr. James Ray of Oceanic Environmental Solutions, LLC in Spring, Texas, arrived on the same flight as Amanda. He is under contract with Shell Oil to explore the research capabilities of UAF faculty who might be able to address Shell Oil research needs in the Beaufort and Chuckchi seas. He spent the week meeting with IMS faculty and also met with Department of Geology faculty and with UA Vice President for Research Craig Dorman. Mr. Craig Keshishian from Indicator Systems, Inc. (ISI) arrived on September 26. He spent September 27 in Fairbanks discussing a new invention by his company and then traveled to Kodiak to meet with FITC faculty on September 28. A joint proposal from ISI and FITC may result from his visit.

We ended the month with the SFOS 2006 Fall Convocation. This meeting was held by teleconference and using PictureTalk software to display visual information via the Internet. Besides groups gathered in Anchorage, Juneau, Kodiak, Fairbanks and Seward, we had faculty and staff participate from Australia (Russ Hopcroft) Homer (Terry Johnson and Carin Bailey), Cordova (Torie Baker), Petersburg (Sunny Rice) and Moss Landing, California (Geoff Wheat). Emeritus Faculty member Ole Mathisen also called in. Mike Castellini participated from California while I transmitted the material out via PictureTalk from an undisclosed location.

Denis