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Dean's monthly updates

November 2008

November was a month of significant change. On the national level, the country decisively decided to change direction with the election of Barack Obama. His anticipated appointment of Governor Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce could have a significant impact on the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The re-election of Congressman Don Young and the election of Mark Begich as the junior senator from Alaska will certainly change the Alaska dynamic in Congress. With Alaska having over half of the U.S. coastline and one of the largest fisheries in the world, Senator Stevens was a strong supporter of ocean and fisheries issues. I hope we can convince Senator-elect Begich to assume a similar role in the new Congress. It was encouraging that Senator-elect Begich took time from his schedule on November 21 to visit with the Alaska Sea Grant Advisory Committee meeting in Anchorage. Advisory Committee Chair Jeff Stephan arranged for the visit at which Senator-elect Begich made some comments which showed both his interest in and knowledge of Alaska Sea Grant activities. Look for the photo soon on the SFOS webpage.

I attended the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) meeting in Chicago November 9-12 as the UAF representative to the Board of Oceans and Atmospheres (BOA). The theme of the meeting was Navigating in a Climate of Change and there was much discussion of both climate change and changes that will occur under the new administration. The consensus is that energy and global climate change will be two important foci of the Obama administration and that the Environmental Protection Agency is emerging as a major player in climate change. BOA held a session on carbon trading where representatives of the 400+ member Chicago Climate Exchange discussed carbon trading as a market-based solution to global warming. The new co-chairs of BOA are Steve Lohrenz from the University of Southern Mississippi and Len Pietrafesa from North Carolina State University. Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. gave one of the keynote addresses at the meeting and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley also gave a not too brief presentation. The sessions on graduate students and the use of technology in active learning were very useful and have encouraged me to initiate a faculty discussion on podcasting our undergraduate fisheries courses.

High school guidance counselors from interior Alaska visited the UAF campus November 6 and 7. The visit was organized by the UAF Admissions Office and SFOS Recruiting and Retention Coordinator Katie Murra arranged for them to visit SFOS to learn about our undergraduate fisheries programs. I attended a dinner with the counselors on November 6 and encouraged them to send teams from their schools to the Tsunami Bowl in Seward next February. Katie also organized the SFOS participation in the Natural Resources, Fisheries, and Sciences Career Day held at the Wood Center in Fairbanks on November 13. During the day, Katie and Instructor Andy Seitz had an opportunity to visit with students interested in careers in science. An SFOS fisheries graduate, Debbie Hart (M.S., 1996) staffed the Alaska Department of Fish and Game booth and current fisheries student Valli Peterson was recruiting employees for ASRC Energy Services. The event was hosted by UAF Career Services.

Efforts to increase gifts to SFOS are a priority this year, especially with the decline in state revenues. To improve our capabilities in this area, SFOS Development Officer Teresa Thompson attended a Development for Deans (and Development Officers) conference put on by the Council for Advancement and Support for Education (CASE) November 5-7 in Phoenix. On November 14, Teresa also met with Tom Crowley, Chairman and CEO of Crowley Maritime Corporation to discuss a potential partnership between SFOS and Crowley. This should be a natural partnership since Crowley Maritime makes its living on the ocean and SFOS studies the ocean and trains the next generation of marine science leaders in understanding, managing, and utilizing ocean resources. Bill Hurley, President and CEO of The Glosten Associates, the naval architectural firm designing the ARRV, set up the meeting as he was also interested in meeting with Crowley.

Alaska Sea Grant held its Advisory Committee meeting in Anchorage November 20-21, and I attended to provide an update on SFOS activities. Jeff Stephan, manager of the United Fishermen's Marketing Association from Kodiak chaired the meeting, and Jim Murray, Deputy Director, National Sea Grant, represented the national office and presented an overview of plans for Sea Grant. Much of the focus of the meeting was on positioning Alaska Sea Grant to meet the changing needs of those who make their living from the ocean. UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers also participated in the meeting to discuss his three themes for UAF: putting people first, engaging communities, and taking action. He explained the barriers this year to increasing the SFOS budget and shared a plan for seeking funds for additional Marine Advisory Program faculty in the FY11 budget request to the legislature. A highlight of the meeting for me was the presentation by MAP faculty Sunny Rice and Torie Baker on the Alaska Young Fishermen's Summit, a two-day leadership symposium designed for young and new Alaska fishermen. The first two summits have been tremendous successes. If you have not heard about them, I suggest you check it out on the MAP website at

Several visitors made their way to Fairbanks in November. Marine ecologist Michelle Ridgeway visited with me on November 6. Michelle participated in the 2007 submarine expedition that produced the first underwater video footage from the depths of the Zhemchug and Pribilof canyons in the Bering Sea. She is working on a movie from the expedition. Jennifer Crews, Senior Geologist, and John Cologgi, Principal Facilities Development Engineer, both from ConocoPhillips Alaska, visited SFOS on November 24. They discussed the possibility of using geochemistry to determine the age of iceberg gouges in Alaska's coastal sediments with Emeritus Professor Sathy Naidu and graduate student Doug Dasher.

One of the most long-awaited changes in SFOS occurred this month in Juneau as our fisheries division faculty moved into the brand new, 30,000 square foot Lena Point Fisheries Facility. The new building is located about five miles north of the Juneau Center's previous facility at Auke Bay. The three-story facility houses nine laboratories, three classrooms, a teaching lab and large saltwater tanks for studying live sea creatures. As noted in our press release, the Lena Point Fisheries Facility is co-located with the NOAA Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute, continuing a long tradition of collaboration between NOAA Fisheries and the Juneau Center. Congratulations to all who have worked over the years to make this move possible. Our faculty will begin teaching classes in the new facility in January and we are planning a dedication ceremony for the last week in April 2009.