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Dean's monthly updates

March 2007

April may be the cruelest month, but last month was almost the coldest March ever recorded in Fairbanks. The average temperature of 6.5 degrees below zero was only 0.1 degree above the old record of minus 6.6 degrees set in 1959.

Fortunately, I began the month in Washington, DC where I briefly attended a Successful Proposal Development Workshop sponsored by the Grant Resources Center of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities on March 1. The same day I met with Dr. Donald R. Cotton, Executive Director, Research and Sponsored Programs Administration, Lamar University, to discuss common research interests. While rushing between meetings, I ran across RADM Richard West, President of the Consortium of Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE), on the platform at Metro Center and gave him a brief update on the status of the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) panel review. Before returning to Fairbanks on March 2, I had a discussion with Bill Wiseman of the Office of Polar Programs (OPP) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) about the NSF-funded Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST) partnership with the North Pacific Research Board.

On March 6, I made a presentation to the research and scholarship working group of the UAF Vision Task Force (VTF). The VTF has been assembled by Chancellor Steve Jones to present recommendations on how UAF can position itself to become one of the world's premier arctic research and teaching universities by 2017. SFOS Advisory Council member Doug DeMaster is a member of the VTF.

Throughout the month, several conversations were held with program managers at NSF concerning the UAF proposal to construct and operate the ARRV. Our proposal was the only one received by NSF and Terry Whitledge is working with the UAF proposal team to answer questions from the NSF ARRV Review Panel.

I spent March 13-16 in Kodiak at ComFish Alaska and visiting with Fishery Industrial Technology Center (FITC) faculty and staff. Sea Grant Director Brian Allee gave an overview presentation called "Enriching Alaska's king crab stocks." MAP faculty member Ray RaLonde's interactive presentation on "Alaska Oysters: learn and slurp" was a highlight of the meeting, especially the slurping of the freshly-shucked oysters. SFOS Recruiting and Retention Coordinator Katie Murra staffed the SFOS display to spread the word of the exciting activities happening in our school and to recruit students to our academic programs. On the evening of March 15, Brian Allee and Jeff Stephan, Chair of the Alaska Sea Grant Advisory Committee, spoke to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly (carried locally on National Public Radio) to thank them for their support of the king crab enhancement workshop.

The Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) Governance Committee met in Anchorage on March 20. Mark Johnson and Rob Cermak, AOOS Data Manager, and I attended the meeting for SFOS. We received an update on national and international ocean observing activities and helped formulate the plan for capturing new NOAA funding for AOOS.

On March 23, CAPT Daniel Oliver accepted our offer to become the Director of the Seward Marine Center and Marine Superintendent. In the Coast Guard, Dan served as engineering officer on the icebreaker Polar Sea and as executive officer and commanding officer of the icebreaker Healy. He is a graduate of the US Coast Guard Academy and has a master's degree from University of Michigan in naval architecture, marine engineering, and mechanical engineering. Dan is retiring from the Coast Guard this month and will arrive in Seward on May 21.

SFOS Academic Manager Christina Neumann and I traveled to Anchorage on March 26 to participate in the Rasmuson Fisheries Research Center Advisory Board meeting chaired by Ed Rasmuson. The Rasmuson Fisheries endowment has grown to $6,616,000 and the interest is used for student fellowships. Six SFOS students presented their thesis research to the board. The board awarded five continuing and two new Rasmuson Fellowships. Congratulations to new Rasmuson Fellows Jennifer Marsh and Megan Murphy.

I spent the next day in Anchorage working at our Marine Advisory Program offices and meeting with faculty. On the morning of March 28, I had the opportunity to attend the President's Cabinet that was held at the University of Alaska Anchorage. During the meeting, I gave an update on our Rasmuson Foundation grant to upgrade our fisheries and ocean sciences programs to President Hamilton, UAF Chancellor Steve Jones, UAS Chancellor John Pugh, UA Foundation President Mary Rutherford, and UA Vice Presidents Craig Dorman and Wendy Redman.

Chancellor Steve Jones hosted an evening reception for the Pollock Conservation Collaborative (PCC) companies in Anchorage on March 28. Many PCC company CEOs attended along with members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Advisory Panel, and Science and Statistical Committee who were meeting at the Anchorage Hilton Hotel. UAF Associate Vice Chancellor for Development Judyth Wier organized the reception and UA President Mark Hamilton joined us for the evening. Steve Jones and I thanked the PCC companies for their support of SFOS research and for their endowment of the Ted Stevens Distinguished Professorship in Marine Policy. PCC contributions have now exceeded $7,400,000.

Victory was ours on the croquet court (ice) in March. Our SFOS team led by Matt Wooller was victorious over IAB/Biology and Wildlife in this year's "Fish, Foliage, Feather & Fur Spring Croquet Match." I am told that Dr. Mark Shapley, a post-doc from Bruce Finney's lab used his skills effectively to assure the victory. The trophy, which closely resembles a fruit bowl, is on view in the Dean's office area.