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Dean's monthly updates

August 2007

Finally! After 30 years of planning and development, the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been awarded the first phase of funding for the construction of the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV), a 236-foot, $123-million ice-breaking vessel capable of venturing deep into arctic waters. Terry Whitledge, leader of the UAF proposal team and principal investigator, received official notification from the National Science Foundation on August 7. The initial $2.5-million award will fund the first of four phases of construction of the research vessel. The ARRV will be owned by NSF and operated by UAF on behalf of the entire ocean sciences community, through the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS).

News of the ARRV funding arrived while I was in Anchorage. I had been in Kodiak August 6-7 to meet with faculty and to interview one of the candidates for the Fishery Industrial Technology Center (FITC) director position. From Anchorage, I traveled to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor to accompany Chancellor Steve Jones in his visits with several seafood processors. Marine Advisory Program faculty member Reid Brewer arranged our visit. We had dinner on August 8 with City of Unalaska Mayor Shirley Marquardt and City Manager Chris Hladick among others and breakfast on August 9 with John Conwell (Superintendent of Schools), Teri LaGrand (Unalaska High School Counselor) and Zoya Johnson, director of the Museum of the Aleutians. Most of the morning of August 9 was spent with Unisea, Inc. plant manager Don Graves along with Pete Maloney, Rocky Caldero, and Eric Graham. After lunch with Dr. Greg Peters of Alyeska Seafoods, Reid had to leave the group to butcher a sea lion at Camp Qungaayux, the culture and science camp that UAF co-presents with the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska. Our trip back from Unalaska was extended to include spending the night in the Anchorage airport. Steve and Judy Jones were great company for the evening.

Ten SFOS students turned in their theses (1 Ph.D. and 9 M.S) for final review this August. The students, their degree program and advisors are listed below.

Congratulations to these students as they move forward to the next stage in their careers.

On August 15, I was interviewed by Laine Welch who produces Fish Radio that airs on 22 commercial and public radio stations in nearly every region of Alaska. We discussed the benefits of the Alaska Educational Tax Credit to the fishing industry in Alaska. The tax credit allows companies paying taxes to the state of Alaska to receive a tax credit by donating funds to the University of Alaska.

The first of our SFOS Conversations, a monthly teleconference for faculty and staff to discuss current SFOS issues, was conducted on August 16. Groups from nine different locations dialed in. Topics discussed included the program head for the Graduate Program in Marine Science and Limnology (GPMSL), reorganization of the SFOS Curriculum Committee, the new classroom in the O'Neill Building, and plans for faculty hiring. The next conversation will be held September 20.

I spent August 18-22 in Juneau where I chaired the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center (PCCRC) meeting on August 20. The PCCRC board approved their annual request for proposals with $350,000 available for research in 2008. See the RFP at for the research thrust areas. Proposals are due October 30.

On August 21, I represented SFOS at the dedication of NOAA's $51M Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute (TSMRI) at Lena Point. The UAF Fisheries facility is under construction next door. TSMRI Director Phil Mundy and Alaska Fisheries Science Director Doug DeMaster both spoke of the strong partnership between NOAA and UAF in Juneau. My five-minute speech during the dedication ceremony also focused on the SFOS-NOAA partnership. Sen. Stevens spoke of his strong support for fisheries management and of his determination to get the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ratified by the U.S. Senate. Before leaving Juneau, I participated in the beginning of the Alaska King Crab Research and Rehabilitation Workshop hosted at TSMRI by Alaska Sea Grant Director Brian Allee.

A group of congressional staffers visited our Kasitsna Bay Laboratory on August 23 and I accompanied them along with co-directors Kris Holderied (NOAA) and David Christie (UAF). SFOS faculty member Geoff Wheat was at the laboratory to demonstrate some of the mini-ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) that he has been developing with NOAA funds. The purpose of the congressional visit was to see the $12.5 million in renovations and new construction completed since 2000, including the Raymond C. Highsmith Laboratory. Ray, a former UAF faculty member and Kasitsna Bay Laboratory director, was instrumental in the expansion of the laboratory. The visitors from DC included Eric Webster and Lauren Lugo from NOAA, Kristine Lynch (Senate Commerce), David Whaley (House Resources), William Todd (Senator Thad Cochran's office), Megan Maassen (House Resources), and Thomas Michels (Senator Mary Landrieu's office). After the boat trip back from the lab, the group held the traditional debriefing at the Salty Dawg Saloon on the Homer Spit.

During August, two SFOS faculty announced they were leaving. MAP faculty member Liz Brown announced on August 3 that she was leaving her position in Dillingham this month and IMS Professor Bruce Finney advised me that he would be leaving at the end of the semester to take a position at Idaho State University in Pocatello. We wish Liz and Bruce every success in their new endeavors. Other faculty changes are in progress. By the end of August we received approval from the Provost to hire nine (9) new SFOS faculty – four in fisheries, three in oceanography, and two in marine biology. If we invite three candidates to interview for each of these positions, we can look forward to 27 seminars and some serious meals with candidates during the next semester. It is good to know that our program is moving forward with these planned hires.