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Dean's monthly updates

April 2007

Understanding benthic habitat is essential to successful fisheries management. To help pave the way for new technologies to efficiently map benthic habitat, Alaska Sea Grant conducted a Marine Habitat Mapping Technology Workshop for Alaska in Anchorage April 2-4. The meeting was funded by the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) and organized by Assistant Professor Jennifer Reynolds and Sea Grant Director Brian Allee. I attended the first day of the workshop that considered (1) the need to define and characterize marine habitats over areas large enough to be useful for management or predictive modeling purposes with (2) the capabilities and cost of the technologies available to accomplish this at adequate resolution. The top national and international scientists in seafloor mapping came to share their ideas. As usual, meeting coordinator Sherri Pristash and the Sea Grant team organized an outstanding event.

Glenn Haight joined the SFOS faculty on April 4 as a Research Assistant Professor in the Marine Advisory Program (MAP). He is working in Juneau as the Fisheries Business Specialist. His efforts will be focused on assisting marine related businesses statewide. Glenn was most recently a fishery development specialist with the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. When you are in Juneau, please welcome Glenn to the SFOS family.

Associate Dean Mike Castellini and I traveled to Anchorage for the day on April 9 to meet with the Executive Committee of the Alaska SeaLife Center Board of Directors. We discussed needed modification to the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between UAF and the ASLC that determines how our faculty and students work together there. The quick day trip turned into a much longer day when the 8:25 p.m. flight was cancelled and the 11:55 p.m. flight was delayed as usual. As we were too tired to work any more, we spent four fun hours entertaining ourselves with sea and ice stories. Mike’s tale of flying out of Antarctica topped my Algerian missile boat story by a long shot.

I spent April 12 and 13 at the Fishery Industrial Technology Center (FITC) in Kodiak and Associate Dean Mike Castellini followed me on April 16 and 17. We spent our time at FITC meeting with faculty, staff and students discussing future directions for our programs in Kodiak. I also had the opportunity to meet with former state representative Dan Ogg, Kodiak Island Borough Mayor Jerome Selby, City of Kodiak Mayor Carolyn Floyd, Matthew Moir, General Manger of North Pacific Seafoods, and Al Burch, Executive Director of the Alaska Draggers Association among others.

SFOS Public Information Officer Carin Bailey gave a presentation to the University of Alaska (UA) Board of Regents during their April board meeting in Homer. Carin described SFOS activities on the Kenai Peninsula including our MAP activities in Homer directed by Terry Johnson, the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, and our Seward Marine Center. She also gave an update on construction of our Lena Point fisheries building in Juneau. One result of the presentation was that UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer and BOR Chair Mary K. Hughes are planning to return to Homer in June and have requested a tour of the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory.

On April 18, UAF Chancellor Steve Jones, Provost Paul Reichardt and Vice Provost Susan Henrichs toured the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory during their visit to Homer for the UA Board of Regents meeting. The Kasitsna Bay Laboratory is owned by NOAA and operated in cooperation with SFOS. The lab is located across Kachemak Bay from Homer and is the staging point for UAF's Scientific Diving Program. The NOAA Kasitsna Bay Laboratory director, Kris Holderied, and SFOS graduate student, Joel Markis, guided the UAF administrators through the laboratory facilities. Carin Bailey, SFOS public information officer, also attended the tour.

The SFOS Advisory Council chaired by Dr. David Policansky of the National Research Council met at the MAP offices in Anchorage April 20-21 (yes it was over the weekend). I presented an overview of SFOS activities and accomplishment for the last year, the most significant of which is that we have paid off our debt completely. The council also discussed the role of faculty in providing information to policy makers with UAA Chancellor Fran Ulmer leading the discussion and the planned revision of the Memorandum of Agreement with the Alaska SeaLife Center. The plan for hiring fourteen (14) new faculty over the next two years was also discussed. The SFOS Advisory Council reports to the Chancellor Steve Jones and will be sending him a report in the coming months. Members of the council and a picture of the happy group can be found at <>.

The North Pacific Research Board met in Anchorage April 25 and 26 to consider funding recommendations from the Science Panel. Vera Alexander and Shannon Atkinson from SFOS are members of the NPRB Science panel and devote significant time to providing sound scientific advice to the board. The NPRB funded $3,889,381 in new grants, most based on the Science Panel’s recommendations. The awards included another year of funding for the Seward Line of oceanographic stations conducted by IMS faculty members Russ Hopcroft, Tom Weingartner and IMS Director Terry Whitledge.

After the NPRB meeting, I flew from Anchorage to New York with PIO Carin Bailey and Dr. Dean Stockwell where we attend the 2007 National Ocean Sciences Bowl finals competition. Sherri Pristash from Alaska Sea Grant and Alaska Tsunami Ocean Sciences Bowl Coordinator Phyllis Shoemaker and Linda Lasota from the Seward Marine Center joined us a Stony Brook University to observe the finals. Twenty-five teams competed in the 2007 finals. Juneau-Douglas High School represented Alaska well, but Contoocook Valley Regional High School from Peterborough, New Hampshire won the championship. Next April 26-27, we will host the 2008 National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Seward and this trip helped us understand what lies ahead.