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November & December 2009 Report from the SFOS Dean

This report covers both November and December 2009 as many activities that started in November concluded in December. In addition, I left Fairbanks for the Christmas holidays on the night of December 15, so it was a short month for me. After five white Christmases in a row in Fairbanks, Jean and I spent the holidays with friends and family in Mississippi where we had our first "green Christmas" in six years.

ARRV Update. In July1973, Robert Elsner (now UAF Professor Emeritus) wrote a proposal to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for "Planning for an Alaskan Research Ship." Thirty-nine years and four months later, events are moving quickly to assure the scientific community will have this much-needed vessel. The Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV) shipyard selection panel met in Fairbanks November 2-5 to review shipyard proposals for construction of the ARRV. On November 17, UAF Director of Procurement John Hebard, ARRV Project Manager Dan Oliver and I traveled to DC and met with NSF to present the panel recommendation and seek their consent to award a contract. Dan presented the recommendation and John was nothing but impressive in his description of the contract and in answering follow-up questions. Because of the thoroughness of the selection report, NSF moved up their plan for issuing the consent by almost a week and we received their consent on December 4. On December 18, UAF signed a contract for $123,197,168 with Marinette Marine Corporation, Marinette, Wisconsin, for construction of the 254 ft. ARRV. UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers will participate in a ceremonial signing of the contract to be held in Marinette on February 5, 2010. ARRV Project Director Gary Smith will move to Marinette in January 2010 and assemble a team to oversee the construction. We are on our way. The vessel should be completed in 2013 and ready for science in 2014. For more details, see the updated ARRV web page at www.sfos.uaf.edu/arrv.

November is the month when SFOS students submit their theses to me for final review before transmittal to the UAF Graduate School for December graduation. As I have mentioned before, reading the final product of our students' research is one of the most enjoyable parts of my responsibilities as dean. The breadth of our student research is impressive from harvesting of humpback whitefish in the Chatanika River (Edenfield) to processes that control the distribution of heat and freshwater on the northern Gulf of Alaska shelf (Janout). Our December 2009 graduates were:

Haixue Shen, Ph.D. Fisheries. Major Advisor: Dr. Terrance Quinn
Markus A. Janout, Ph.D. Oceanography. Major Advisor: Dr. Tom Weingartner
Jonathon Gerken, M.S. Fisheries. Major Advisor: Dr. Joseph Margraf
Elizabeth B. Benolkin, M.S. Fisheries. Major Advisor: Dr. Joseph Margraf
Lorena Elaine Edenfield, M.S. Fisheries. Major Advisor: Dr. Trent Sutton
Jenefer Bell, M.S. Marine Biology. Major Advisor: Dr. Russell Hopcroft
Maryann Bozza, M.S. Marine Biology. Major Advisor: Dr. Tuula Hollmen
Caroline M. Jezierski, M.S. Marine Biology. Major Advisor: Dr. Brenda Norcross
Mayumi L. Arimitsu, M.S. Fisheries. Major Advisor: Dr. Nicola Hillgruber
Lorna I. Wilson, M.S. Fisheries. Major Advisor: Dr. William Smoker

You can review the abstracts of their theses on our web page at www.sfos.uaf.edu/theses . Congratulations to these students as they complete this important step in their careers.

The Alaska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society held its annual meeting in Fairbanks November 3-5. SFOS had a great showing at the meeting with 10 faculty attending, 13 students working as volunteers, and 5 poster and 22 oral presentations by faculty, staff and students. Associate Professors Milo Adkison and Trent Sutton chaired symposia during the meeting. Our students represented us well at the meeting, both in the presentations that they gave and their volunteer efforts with meeting logistics and audio-visual support. During the meeting, it was announced that Matt Catterson, one of our undergraduate fisheries students in Juneau, won the Molly O. Ahlgren Scholarship Award that goes annually to a senior fisheries student in Alaska. SFOS Undergraduate Fisheries Coordinator Trent Sutton has been elected Alaska Chapter Vice President and fisheries Ph.D. student Sara Miller is the new Student Subunit representative on the chapter's Executive Committee.

SFOS Recruiting and Retention Coordinator Katie Straub and I participated in the UAF Natural Resources, Fisheries and Sciences Career Day at the Wood Center in Fairbanks on November 4. The event provides an opportunity for employers to meet with students nearing graduation. SFOS co-hosts this annual event with the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM) and the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences (SNRAS). Thirty-nine federal, state, and private organizations were represented and over 400 students participated. Most of the representatives of the Alaska Department and Fish and Game were SFOS graduates as were several other employer representatives, including our most recent B.S. fisheries graduate - Valli Peterson who works for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation Energy Services.

November 5-6, I attended the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC) 8th Annual Research Colloquium and Board of Directors meeting in Seward. I serve as one of the University of Alaska representatives on the ASLC board and UAF Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Pat Pitney holds the other UA seat. The colloquium provided me the opportunity to hear our research faculty at the ASLC (Jo-Ann Mellish, Russ Andrews, Lori Polasek, and Tuula Hollmen) and several students present their 2009 research activities. Much of the board meeting focused on development activities, including the Alaska Marine Gala that will be held January 17, 2010 in Anchorage at the Dena’ina Center. The evening will feature a presentation by marine explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau and an awards ceremony to recognize individuals and organizations from marine education, industry, research, resource management and the media who have contributed to ocean literacy and sustainability. SFOS is sponsoring the media award this year. More information about the gala can be found at http://www.alaskasealife.org/alaskamarinegala/.

The following week marked a whirlwind of travel for me. On November 10, I attended the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) Board of Directors meeting in Anchorage along with Professor Mark Johnson. SFOS is the major recipient of AOOS funding and Mark runs the AOOS Data Center which collects and processes all AOOS data and makes it available over the web to scientists and the public. Check out their activities at http://ak.aoos.org. During the meeting, the board considered a new Memorandum of Agreement under which the organization will operate in the future. I gave a presentation on SFOS activities that will be funded through the Alliance for Coastal Technologies (ACT) that will be directed by Associate Professor Peter Winsor. After 24 hours back in Fairbanks, I flew to Anchorage again to attend the Alaska Sea Grant Advisory Committee meeting which was held at the National Parks Service building. This was Dr. David Christie's first meeting as director of Alaska Sea Grant. My presentation focused on the SFOS relationships with many marine organizations throughout Alaska. The committee discussed how it could advocate effectively for the permanent funding that UA has requested from the legislature for our Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program extension agents in coastal communities from Nome to Cordova.

I spent November 14-18 in Washington, DC attending the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) meeting as the UAF representative to the Board of Oceans and Atmospheres. While there, I participated in the aforementioned November 17 meeting at NSF and spent December 18 on Capitol Hill briefing our Alaska Congressional staff on the ARRV. UA Director of Federal Relations Martha Stewart and I met with Arne Fuglvog in Sen. Murkowski's office, with Jeremy Price (Congressman Young's staff) and John Rayfield (Minority Staff Director, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) at the Ford House Office Building and then with Bob King and Pete Jones in Sen. Begich's office. John was instrumental in supporting the new facilities in our Kasitsna Bay Laboratory and continues to be interested in the success of the lab. We also discussed the need for additional funding for an ocean observing system with our Senate staffers. This was all accomplished by 1:00 p.m. on November 18 so I could catch the evening plane to Seattle for a meeting the next day.

In Seattle, I attended the Pacific Marine Expo where SFOS Development Officer Teresa Thompson was meeting with potential donors and staffing the SFOS display. On November 19, Teresa, Heather McCarty, and I met with about 15 crab harvesters and others to discuss the possibility of creating a crab research fund through the University of Alaska Foundation. Heather presented the status of the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology Program (AKCRRAB) and Teresa described support opportunities that take advantage of the Education Tax Credit. That evening, at the invitation of Alaska Crab Coalition Executive Director Arni Thomson, we attended the United Fishermen of Alaska seafood reception at the Swedish Cultural Center. Before leaving Seattle on Friday, I had an opportunity to visit Glosten Associates (www.glosten.com), the naval architecture firm that is our partner in the construction of the ARRV. I met with Glosten President William Hurley, Vice President Peggy Noethlich, and naval architect Dirk Kristensen, one of the key designers of the ARRV. Glosten Associates also provides financial support to our Alaska region National Ocean Sciences Bowl and has supported this effort for the past ten years. It was a happy visit as I brought good news from DC.

December 1 began on the 1:05 a.m. flight out of Fairbanks to Seattle and Washington, DC to attend NOAA's Next Generation Strategic Plan (NGSP) National Stakeholder Forum on December 2 at George Washington University, see http://www.ppi.noaa.gov/ngsp.html. Chancellor Rogers had been invited to the forum and asked me to represent UAF at the meeting. NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco kicked off the meeting and all the associate administrators were present to chair working groups. I had a chance to meet with the assistant administrators for National Ocean Service (Jack Dunnigan) and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (Rick Spinrad) as well as with Dave Kennedy who is Dunnigan's deputy. Dave is very interested in SFOS activities in Alaska, especially our Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, and was employed at the UAF Geophysical Institute earlier in his career. I participated in the Sustainable Fisheries Working Group chaired by Jim Balsiger, head of the National Marine Fisheries Service and a member of the SFOS Advisory Council. SFOS Advisory Council member Doug DeMaster facilitated the discussions. After the meeting, I also had a chance to visit with Ray Highsmith, Director of the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST) at the University of Mississippi and former SFOS faculty member.

On December 3, I flew from DC to San Francisco to attend the 49th annual meeting of the Council of Graduate Schools meeting that ran through Saturday, December 5. This meeting provided useful information on trends in graduate education and gave me an opportunity to visit with other deans who deal primarily with graduate student issues, including how to improve our student recruiting. UAF Interim Graduate Dean Larry Duffy gave a presentation on the special challenges to community engagement in rural Alaska communities.

My final trip of the year was to Anchorage on December 8 to attend part of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting and observe the 2009 Alaska Young Fishermen's Summit hosted by the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program December 7 – 9 at the Anchorage Hilton. This event provides training and networking opportunities for new fishermen entering the business, or more seasoned fishermen wishing to take a leadership role in their industry. The summit, organized by MAP Leader Paula Cullenberg and MAP faculty Sunny Rice (Petersburg) and Torie Baker (Cordova) had about 50 participants and received a nice write-up in seafood.com (http://www.seafoodnews.com/NewsStory.aspx?StoryId=719969).

I traveled only 68,261 miles on SFOS business in 2009, down significantly from my first few years as dean (88,525 miles in 2006) and the third year in a row with fewer air miles. During 2010, I anticipate a few trips to Juneau to support the UA legislative request for MAP funding. I plan to limit my travel in 2010 to conserve budget, however, I do hope to make it to Bethel and Nome, the only two SFOS locations I have not visited.

Happy New Year.

 

Denis