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Dean's monthly updates

August 2008

August is the beginning of the new school year at UAF and it was the beginning for seven new SFOS faculty members as well as 13 Fisheries undergraduates and 29 graduate students in Oceanography, Marine Biology and Fisheries. The new faculty are

Also new this year is Gary Freitag who joined our Marine Advisory Program (MAP) in Ketchikan in January. Thus, we start the 2008-2009 academic year with eight more faculty than last year. Andres Lopez has a joint appointment with the University Alaska Museum of the North as the Curator of Fish. Please welcome these new faculty members to SFOS when you meet them.

MAP Leader Paula Cullenberg and I traveled to Whittier on August 4 as part of an environmental tour hosted by the Alaska Cruise Association. We spent the morning touring the Island Princess operated by Princess Cruises with Bruce Bustamante, Vice President, Community and Public Affairs, as the host. Bruce is also a member of the SFOS Advisory Council. We had a great time watching the crew sort garbage as part of the recycling processing and then touring the sewage treatment plant before having lunch aboard the ship.

SFOS Recruiting and Retention Coordinator Katie Murra and I traveled to Anchorage August 7 and 8 to participate in a Recruiting and Retention Roundtable hosted by the Rasmuson Foundation and facilitated by Michael Walsh of The Foraker Group. Twenty-two people from UAF, UAA, UAS, Alaska Native groups, Community Development Quota groups, and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council spent the morning of August 8 developing new ideas for recruiting students to our new B. A. degree in Fisheries. UAF Interim Chancellor Brian Rogers participated by telephone. The ideas from this meeting, along with those from our July 15 meeting on the same topic, are being evaluated and incorporated into the SFOS Enrollment Management Plan. While in Anchorage, Paula Cullenberg and I had the opportunity to meet with Dorothy Childers, Fisheries Program Director, and Kelly Harrell, Friends of Bristol Bay Project Director, of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council. We discussed the university's role in engaging Alaskans in productive discussions of environmental issues. Katie spent August 7 at UAA visiting with students from the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP).

Senator Lisa Murkowski hosted the Eight Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region August 11-14 in Fairbanks. Institute of Marine Science Director Terry Whitledge and I represented SFOS at the meetings. Meeting themes were human health in the Arctic region, adaption to climate change, and energy resources in the Arctic. Several of the participants, especially those from Iceland, were keenly interested in how fisheries are managed in Alaska. Margaret Hayes from the Department of State reported that the U.S. is committed to ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and there was much discussion of territorial claims under the Arctic Ocean. 157 nations have ratified the treaty, but the U.S. has not. We are thus unable to make a territorial claim beyond our 200 mile exclusive economic zone as can Russia, Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and other Arctic nations.

SFOS hosted a meeting of the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center Advisory Board in the Vera Alexander Learning Center on August 14. I am the center director and Keith Criddle and Vera Alexander serve on the board. Seven pollock companies donate over $1.0 million each year to SFOS. These funds are used to support an endowed chair in marine policy and faculty research. This year, the board has also decided to fund two graduate fellowships along with $350,000 in faculty research. The PCCRC request for proposals has been distributed with proposals due October 17. At the meeting, we learned that the seven companies will soon be five as two of the companies have purchased two of the others. We are uncertain how this will effect their annual contributions.

Orientation for new UAF faculty was held in Fairbanks August 18 and 19. On the afternoon of August 18, we held a separate session for our new faculty to tell them about "the SFOS way." I presented an overview of SFOS, Proposal Coordinator Gretchen Hundertmark described how the SFOS proposal office supports our faculty and Financial Manager Angela Gies gave a spectacular PowerPoint presentation on "Grants Management - Grants the SFOS Way." Associate Dean Mike Castellini discussed the promotion and tenure process and Academic Manager Christina Neumann provided a wealth of information, as well as a three-inch binder, on our academic process. Gary Newman also provided a brief overview of our IT support. The focus of the orientation was to remind the new faculty that the dean's office is there to support their work and help them get off to a great start at UAF. Presentations from the orientation will be posted soon on a faculty orientation web site.

Our success in constructing the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) depends on a successful Final Design Review (FDR) that will be held by the National Science Foundation in Arlington, VA the week of October 20. To prepare for that review, ARRV PI Terry Whitledge, Project Director Dan Oliver, Construction Manager Gary Smith, and I traveled to Seattle for a preparatory meeting at The Glosten Associates with representatives from NSF. UAF Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Ro Bailey and John Hebard, Director of UAF Procurement and Contract Services, also participated in the review. Glosten Associates is our partner the construction of the ARRV. The meeting provided everyone an opportunity to understand the project status and their part in the FDR. Dan Oliver and Gary Smith have done an outstanding job moving the project forward professionally to this important juncture.

I returned to Seattle the following week (August 25-28) to serve as one of seven science reviewers of NOAA's Pacific Environmental Marine Laboratory (PMEL). Our charge was to assess the quality, relevance, and performance of PMEL research activities. My specific area of responsibility was their work on Alaska marine ecosystems. PMEL physical oceanographer Phyllis Stabeno gave an excellent presentation on their Ecosystems & Fisheries-Oceanography Coordinated Initiative (EcoFOCI) which is a partnership between PMEL and the Alaska Fisheries Science Center. UAF was mentioned several times during the presentations and Terry Whitledge has been a long-time collaborator with this effort.

Since I started the month on a cruise ship, I decided to end it the same way on August 29. Except, the ship was the Riverboat Discovery III on the Chena River in Fairbanks. This was a more pleasant experience than some of the oceanographic cruises I have done in the past.