It’s been a year of new beginnings and sad farewells at Alaska Sea Grant.

We wished longtime director Paula Cullenberg well as she launched into retirement in March after 15 years of service as Marine Advisory Program leader and then director of Alaska Sea Grant. Cullenberg is now a professor emeritus with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). She brought enthusiasm, vision and three decades of experience in commercial fisheries, program management, and rural economic development to the position.

After a national search, the university selected Heather Brandon to be the new Alaska Sea Grant director. Before joining Sea Grant, Brandon was a foreign affairs specialist for NOAA’s Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspection. She has also worked for World Wildlife Fund, Juneau Economic Development Council, Pacific Fishery Management Council, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Brandon hit the ground running in late August and is bringing fresh ideas and new leadership to the program.

We also said goodbye to our veteran editor and writer Sue Keller, who served the university for 35 years. She helped launch Fishlines, our monthly newsletter, in 1981 and kept it going ever since. Keller handled the production of more than 170 publications.

Our recreation and tourism specialist Terry Johnson also retired. He spent 26 years on the UAF faculty and authored 35 publications for Alaska Sea Grant including books, how-to bulletins, posters, brochures, websites and newsletters to assist Alaska commercial and recreational fishermen.

Our marine education specialist Marilyn Sigman is now working part-time with plans for retirement. We are reviewing options for keeping our marine education program going under tight budget conditions. Sigman published a book this year, Entangled: People and Ecological Change in Alaska’s Kachemak Bay.

Faculty members Julie Matweyou and Gary Freitag received academic promotions in May. Matweyou, our Marine Advisory agent in Kodiak, received tenure and associate professor,  and Freitag, our agent in Ketchikan, became a full professor.

We would like to acknowledge the 18 years of service to Alaska Sea Grant by Michele Frandsen, who most recently served as our research coordinator. She is leaving in November after 30 years of working at UAF. We thank her and wish her well in her future endeavors.

On the work front, we continued to fulfill our mission of enhancing the sustainable use and conservation of Alaska’s marine, coastal and watershed resources through research, education and outreach. Among the highlights: the discovery of new invasive species, the launch of a harmful algal bloom network, assistance to tribes and agencies responding to marine mammal and seabird die-offs, support for new industries such as mariculture, training seafood industry leaders and young fishermen, and highlighting the financial challenges for individual entry to Alaska’s commercial fishing industry.

We launched a redesigned website in February that showcases our work. You can read stories there about what our agents, funded-graduate students and fellows are up to and find information about our wide range of classes, training, events, curricula, fellowships and research. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog at the bottom of the home page and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We welcome your ideas and suggestions for how to improve what we do.

Thank you for supporting Alaska Sea Grant. We’ve been working in Alaska since 1970 to support science, education and workforce development and hope to continue to serve Alaska, its people, and the nation for decades to come.

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