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Dean's monthly updates

September 2007

I am pleased to report that Dr. Jeremy Mathis from the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, joined our faculty as an Assistant Professor on September 2. Jeremy received his Ph.D. in chemical oceanography at the University of Miami and was part of the Western Arctic Shelf-Basin Interactions (SBI) Program while working for his advisor, Dr. Dennis Hansell, studying dissolved organic carbon (DOC). Jeremy has just completed a post doctoral position in the laboratory of Dr. Frank Millero at the University of Miami. Please welcome Jeremy when you meet him.

September ended for me in the same place it started -- in San Francisco. From September 1-5, I attended the American Fisheries Society 137th Annual Meeting. Faculty in attendance were Bill Smoker, Trent Sutton, Amanda Rosenberger, and Joe Margraf. Joe was one of the meeting organizers. SFOS Public Information Officer Carin Bailey developed a new display for the meeting that was clearly the best display of any of the exhibitors. You can see our display at Carin and Recruiting and Retention Coordinator Katie Murra staffed the display. During the meeting, we had an opportunity to tell many students about our degree programs and the word spread quickly that we were hiring nine new faculty (4 Fisheries, 3 Oceanography and 2 Marine Biology) this year. Before I left San Francisco, I had a chance to visit with Anne Hector of Hodge/Niederer/Cariani, the search firm UAF is using to find candidates for the Dean of the School of Management. I am chairing the search committee for the new dean.

On the way back from San Francisco, I stopped in Seattle on September 6 for a meeting of the Alaska Region Research Vessel planning team. Institute of Marine Science Director Terry Whitledge and Seward Marine Center Director Dan Oliver, who are spending 75% of their time on the ARRV project, ran the meeting that was held at the Glosten Associates. UAF Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Ro Bailey was there along with UAF Senior Contracting Officer John Hebard. Gary Smith, who has 28 years experience in ship design, ship building, and project management, has been hired by SFOS as the construction manager. Glosten Associates is our partner for the ARRV and were represented by Dirk Kristensen, Tsukina Blessing and Glosten President Bill Hurley. The team spent two days conducting a project review, developing an acquisition strategy and a risk management plan, and working on the Project Execution Plan (PEP) that is due in November. We have put together a great team to manage what I believe is the largest project UAF has ever undertaken.

After a day in the office, I flew to Washington, DC on September 8 for the National Ocean Sciences Bowl Regional Coordinators Meeting. We are hosting the 2008 NOSB finals in Seward April 26-28, 2008 and Phyllis Shoemaker, our NOSB Coordinator, gave a great presentation to the group on our plans for making the first finals in Alaska spectacular. Before leaving DC, I had a brief meeting with SFOS Advisory Council Chair David Policansky to provide him an update on SFOS activities.

In what has to be my shortest turn around between trips, I returned from DC at 12:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning September 12 (so I could attend Provost Council that day) and departed at 5:14 p.m. to attend a meeting in Juneau the next day. On September 13, I met at NOAA with Marine Advisory Program (MAP) Leader Paula Cullenberg and Bernice Joseph (UAF Vice Chancellor for Rural, Community and Native Education). We are working with NOAA to help them formulate a plan to respond to a section (109) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to establish a pilot program for regionally-based marine education and training programs for Alaska Natives. Besides the UAF contingent, the meeting included representatives from NOAA Fisheries, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (Debbie Hart, an SFOS graduate), the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The ten-member Rasmuson Foundation Fisheries Excellence Committee met in Anchorage on September 17 where UAF Undergraduate Fisheries Coordinator Trent Sutton and I represented SFOS. Ed Rasmuson, Chairman of the Board of the Rasmuson Foundation, ran the meeting. Bill Smoker participated by teleconference from Juneau and Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan called in from Skagway. Trent presented our plans for the new B.A. degree in Fisheries and the Minor in Fisheries and received comments from the committee. Details of the expansion of our undergraduate fisheries degree can be found on the web at

The second SFOS Conversations was held on September 20. Our new Information Technology Manager, John Haverlack, introduced himself to the faculty and staff and we briefly discussed the Tsunami Bowl to be held in February and the deadlines for the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center proposals -- October 30. What can be described as the lively discussion of the faculty electronic activity reports (EAR) proved that these conversations can be useful. Based on the discussions we decided to allow faculty to submit the standard MS Word version of the activity reports by the October deadline and complete the EAR by the end of the semester.

On September 25 we received the sad news that Matthew Myers, one of our graduate students in Seward, died during a dive in Resurrection Bay. Matt was doing a scientific training dive as part of his work for the Alaska SeaLife Center. A student at UAF since 2000, Matt will be dearly missed by all. Matt was well-known and well-regarded as both a student and a scientist. He was studying for his Ph.D. in marine biology and successfully defended his dissertation this spring. At the time of his death, he was working on the final edits of his dissertation on contaminants in Steller sea lions. Shannon Atkinson was the chair of Matt's dissertation committee and members included Mike Castellini, Jo-Ann Mellish, Alexander Burdin, Lorrie Rea from ADF&G and Margaret Krahn from NOAA. I attended the memorial service for Matt in Anchorage to transmit condolences from all of SFOS to Matt's mother and his wife, Michelle.

On September 30, I flew back to San Francisco for a meeting the next day at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. I spent the last night of September in a hotel just one block from where I spent the first night of September. And, this was the year that I planned to spend less time traveling.