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Dean's monthly updates

May 2007

Events during May seemed to be focused on festivities and facilities. The festivities were associated with the graduation of ten SFOS students in Fairbanks, Juneau, and even Nome. Efforts to develop SFOS facilities in Juneau, Fairbanks, and Seward all moved forward this month, as did planning for the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV).

On May 4, I had the opportunity to meet with Alaska Lt. Governor Sean Parnell in Fairbanks during a special meeting of the State Committee on Research (SCoR) that he co-chairs with UA Vice President Craig Dorman. Governor Palin has identified energy, telecommunications and fisheries as three research priority areas for the state. At the meeting, I presented Lt. Gov. Parnell and VP Dorman with a Fisheries Research Planning document prepared with input from our faculty throughout the state. Our plan must have been on target as the following day VP Dorman provided SFOS $50,000 to "advance the research and development planning for fisheries research."

University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) commencement was conducted May 6 in Juneau and I was again invited to award the UAF fisheries degrees. Dr. Wongyu Park, a student of SFOS emeritus faculty member Tom Shirley, was hooded by Gordon Kruse during the ceremony. The trip to Juneau also provided me an opportunity to observe the foundation construction at our Lena Point Fisheries Facility. It was great to see real progress on this long anticipated project.

IMS Director Terry Whitledge and I spent much of May 9 in meetings concerning the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) and its required dock in Seward. We met with Vice Chancellor for Research Buck Sharpton and the university research institute directors to discuss how they could help support our proposal. Later that day, we met with Vice Chancellor for Administration Ro Bailey and many of the UAF Department of Design and Construction (DDC) group (Kathleen Schedler, Linda Zanazzo, Marc Wohlford) along with VP Craig Dorman to plan the dock design and allocate funding. At the end of the meeting, SFOS had committed $225,000 to initiate the dock design pending approval from UA President Mark Hamilton. Total design cost is $1,500,000. President Hamilton met with UAF Chancellor Steve Jones and Terry, me and the UAF DDC group on May 16 and confirmed his commitment to constructing the dock and upland facilities in Seward to support the ARRV. At that meeting the decision was made to move forward with the dock design using funds available within UAF. On May 23, UAF issued a request for proposals (RFP No. 1362007) for the design and engineering of the "Seward Marine Center ARRV Dock." Proposals in response to this RFP are due on June 13, 2007. The plans for the ARRV dock are finally moving forward.

Associate Dean Mike Castellini and I attended a Graduate School reception honoring the 2006-2007 Ph.D. degree recipients on May 9 in Fairbanks. Drs. Juan Horillo, Andrew Seitz, and Pieter DeHart were there from SFOS. This was the last Graduate School reception for Dean Susan Henrichs who will become the UAF Provost on July 1. At the UAF graduation ceremony on May 13, the following SFOS students crossed the stage:

On the morning of May 21, I met with President Hamilton and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner, Larry Hartig, in President Hamilton's office to discuss expanding the research collaborations between the university and DEC. We have a memorandum of understanding with DEC to collaborate on the Alaska Monitoring Assessment Program (AKMAP) being conducted by Doug Dasher from DEC and John Kelley and Steve Jewett from SFOS. We explored ideas for expanding this effort and creating additional partnerships. Mr. Hartig was pleased to hear that UAF was the repository of the data from the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS).

The UA Board of Regents (BOR) conducted a meeting on the afternoon of May 21 to discuss facilities. I participated from Fairbanks along with President Hamilton and several board members. UAF Lena Point project manager Mike Ruckhaus traveled to Sitka to be in the room with Regent Mike Snowden who is chair of the BOR facilities committee. We need about $2,000,000 more to complete our Juneau fisheries building as designed and this meeting went through the details of our request in preparation for a decision at the June BOR meeting in Fairbanks.

I traveled to Palmer, Alaska, on May 22 where I visited the NOAA West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. Bill Knight, a graduate student of Zygmunt Kowalik, gave the tour and I had an opportunity to meet with center director Paul Whitmore who is also an Aggie. He received his Ph.D. in geophysics about the same time I was at Texas A&M. I suggested to them that it would be great if one or both of the Palmer high schools participated next year in the Tsunami Bowl in Seward. They are contacting the schools about this. From Palmer, I continued on to Seward (May 22-24) to spend some time with Seward Marine Center Director Dan Oliver who began his UAF duties on May 21. In Seward, Dan and I along with Tom Smith had an opportunity to meet with Seward Mayor Vanta Shafer and City Manager Phillip Oates to discuss design and construction of the ARRV dock. I also met with SFOS faculty and students at the Alaska SeaLife Center. We are in the process of negotiating a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Alaska SeaLife Center and needed their input on the content. During my visit, I had a chance to visit with Dr. Peter Armato, Director, Oceans Alaska Science and Learning Center at Kenai Fjords National Park and an SFOS affiliate faculty member and Dr. John French, who is on the Board of Directors of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council (PWSRCAC) and serves as chair of the PWSRCAC Oil Spill Prevention and Response committee.

The last half of May was dominated by work on the ARRV proposal by Terry Whitledge and the proposal team he has assembled. Naval architect and marine engineer Gary Smith spent three days in Fairbanks (May 16-19) working with Terry on the proposal. When the ARRV is funded, Gary will become the project director for ARRV construction. UAF Marine Superintendent Dan Oliver worked on the proposal from Seward and our partners at Glosten Associates provided input from Seattle. Terry also pulled in expert IT help from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and marine technical support from Oregon State University. Sixteen minutes and 38 seconds into June, Terry submitted to the National Science Foundation (NSF) the 232-page response to the ARRV Panel Review summary. Terry, Dan, Gary, and I, along with UAF Vice Chancellor for Administration Ro Bailey and Director of Procurement Mike Grahek, are traveling to NSF for a June 12 meeting to discuss our responses. When you see Terry, please congratulate him for his dedication to this endeavor that will eventually benefit the entire Alaska and arctic science community.

The May festivities for SFOS student Heidi Herter were in Nome where she received her M.S. in fisheries as part of the graduation ceremony at the UAF Northwest Campus. Her advisor was Dr. Ginny Eckert. One other student received a master's degree during the ceremony and numerous other degrees were awarded down to the certificate level. Heidi's degree was probably the first fisheries advanced degree awarded in Nome. Congratulations to Heidi who joined the SFOS faculty last month as our Marine Advisory Program (MAP) agent in Nome.

I promise the June report will be shorter as I am taking a week of vacation near the end of June.