Sitka Sound Science Center Announces 2014/2015 Scientist in Residency Fellows

The Sitka Sound Science Center, through funding from the National Science Foundation, has established a Scientist in Residency Fellowship (SIRF) at the Center in Sitka.  For the past three years fellowships have been awarded to preeminent marine scientists from across the country. The SIRF program brings scientists to Sitka for one month sabbaticals to allow them time to work undisturbed by their usual daily routine. The program will also provide community engagement opportunities for scientists to share their research and to help improve ocean literacy in our community. We are pleased to announce this year’s group of impressive Fellows:

Coming this month:

nancyNancy grew up in rural Michigan and graduated from Kalamazoo College with a BA in Biology. She earned a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from University of Arizona, where she studied how small plant-­‐eating mammals (pikas, pocket gophers, voles) affected the diversity and species of plant communities, especially in subalpine meadows. She was a post-­‐doctoral researcher at University of Minnesota with a Long Term Ecological Research project, then joined the faculty of Idaho State University, where she was a founder of the Center for Ecological Research and Education. Her research is on ecological diversity and, more recently, human ecology and the ways in people have influenced landscapes and biological diversity. She has studied the ecology and diversity of sagebrush steppe, deserts, old-­‐fields, alpine, subalpine, and montane areas and, since 2004, the human ecology of the northern Gulf of Alaska region. Her interests in Alaska are particularly in landscape legacies, food webs, and sustainable resource use. Nancy also is interested in the use of ecology in land, water, fish, and wildlife management, and served on the Independent Scientific Review Panel and Independent Science Advisory Board for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, NOAA Fisheries, and the Columbia River Tribes for 16 years. While here Nancy will be working on writing for publication some of the research she has done in the Sanak Archipelago and lower Alaska Peninsula region of Alaska. She will be the morning interview on KCAW Sitka, Monday morning August 25, and will give a public presentation on her Sanak Island work as the first Natural History Series talk of the season. Nancy will also give presentations at Sitka High School and Mt Edgecumbe High School. She will be in residence from August 22 through September 21.



bracken_survey_picture_14mar2012-150x150Matt Bracken grew up in Petersburg, Alaska, and spent time in the current SSSC facilities while attending the Sitka Summer Fine Arts Camp in the 1980s. He is excited about returning to the area to work with citizen scientists to gain long-term perspectives on how marine biodiversity has changed in the Sitka area over the past 70 years. Matt is currently an Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Irvine, where his research evaluates the causes and consequences of biodiversity changes in marine ecosystems, including studies showing how nutrients, consumers, stress, and invasive species modify diversity in marine communities and how changes in species diversity and composition affect the services and functions provided by intact marine systems. Dr. Bracken will be in residence from early July through early August, 2014.

Sorte_050609_EastPointPhoto-150x150Cascade Sorte is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of California-Irvine. She is interested in how climate change will influence the compositions of local communities and the distributions of species across broad regions. Her recent projects include exploring potential “coping mechanisms” that will allow species to persist in a changing climate. Cascade is looking forward to studying historical changes in the rocky intertidal and shallow subtidal communities around Sitka with an eye for predicting effects of future climate changes. (July 2014).



Coming Next:

IMG_0056Michael Lannoo is a Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at the Indiana University School of Medicine, and is the Associate Director of Academics at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.  He was born in Moline, Illinois and has a family: his wife Sue and their son Pete, who is an undergraduate at Cornell University.  Mike has a B.S. degree in Biology and a M.S. degree in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University, and a Ph.D from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He has published over 130 scientific articles and seven books, including “Leopold’s Shack and Ricketts’s Lab: The Emergence of Environmentalism” through the University of California Press.  In 2001, Mike received the Parker/Gentry Award for Excellence and Innovation in Conservation Biology from The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL.  This award honors “an outstanding individual, team or organization whose efforts are distinctive and courageous and have had a significant impact on preserving the world’s natural heritage, and whose actions and approaches can serve as a model to others” (see  Mike has field experience in both tropical (Jamaica, Venezuela) and polar (Antarctica) ecosystems, and well as in his native temperate ecosystems—the wetland and prairies of the Midwestern United States.  He has field station experience not only at the Iowa Lakeside Lab (since 1977), but also at Woods Hole (1983), Scripps (1987–’88), and McMurdo (1997–’98).  His current research interests center around the conservation biology of amphibians and the nervous and sensory systems of Bering Sea fishes.  (October 2014)

harcourt Rob Harcourt is the Director of the Marine Mammal Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University. His research involves Animal Behaviour and Ecology.  His main interests revolve around the importance of individual variation in behavior to foraging, communication, mating tactics and life experience. Recently much of Rob’s research has focused on individual differences and evolutionary mechanisms, combining observation and experimental manipulation of behavior in the field with genetics. His second major thrust has been the use of technology to ‘open a window’ into the world of large marine predators. His team was the first to successfully deploy satellite transmitters on fur seals and wintering Adelie penguins. This research has helped transform our understanding of how warm-blooded animals cope with environmental extremes as they forage and breed in the marine environment. Dr. Harcourt is Lead of the Australian Animal Tagging and Monitoring System (AATAMS),  using satellite tags, dive recorders and acoustic transmitters to observe large marine life including fish, sharks, seals, dolphins, whales, penguins and seabirds. He is also very interested in detecting how these animals respond to changes in the marine environment. (April 2015)


2013/2014 SSSC SIRF Fellows:

Photo Vlietstra Lucy Vlietstra is Associate Professor at the United States Coast Guard Academy. In 2003, she received her Ph.D. in Marine Ecology from the University of California-Irvine after completing an undergraduate program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and graduate work at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse. She served as a postdoctoral teaching fellow at the United States Coast Guard Academy before taking a faculty position at Massachusetts Maritime Academy. In 2009, she returned to the United States Coast Guard Academy, where she teaches courses in marine ecology, atmospheric and marine sciences, and coral reef ecology. Lucy conducts collaborative research in the field of marine ecology and conservation. Her research explores changes in the physical marine environment caused by human activities and associated impacts on marine consumers and their food webs. Most recently, she has conducted studies addressing environmental considerations in coastal and offshore wind energy development, climate-related shifts in the ecology of gelatinous consumers native to New England estuaries, and habitat use by demersal fishes of conservation interest in estuaries on Long Island Sound. (June 2014)

Joe RomanJoe Roman is a conservation biologist, writer, and researcher at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont. He is the author of Whale and Listed: Dispatches from America’s Endangered Species Act, winner of the 2012 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award. His research has appeared in ScienceTrends in Ecology and Evolution, and other journals. He has written for AudubonNew ScientistThe New York TimesSlate, and other publications. Editor ‘n’ Chef of, a site dedicated to “fighting invasive species, one bite at a time,” Joe recently completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Brazil. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2003 in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and his Master’s degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. He was born and raised in New York and counts King Kong as an early conservation influence. (MAY 2014)

Alex Werth is a professor and chair of the Department of Biology at Hampden-Sydney College, a small liberal arts college in Virginia, where he teaches anatomy, physiology, evolution, and ecology. He earned a BS in zoology from Duke University and an AM and PhD in evolutionary biology from Harvard University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in Barrow, AK, with the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. In 2013 he was a visiting professor at UBC in Vancouver. His research focuses on the functional morphology and biomechanics of marine mammals, especially of the Arctic, and he is currently studying the material properties and fluid dynamics of the oral baleen filter of humpback and other mysticete whales for a project in biomimicry (creating new technology and industrial applications from the study of design in nature). He is working with a team of Dutch engineers to create 3D printed models of the baleen filter for virtual and physical flow testing. He is broadly interested in science education and conducts outreach programs for people of all ages on topics ranging from evolution and the human genome project to rising sea levels, which he experienced as a Fulbright Scholar in the Indian Ocean in Maldives. He is working on a book about marine conservation and how people of different cultures and occupations relate to the sea and who its resources belong to. (April 2014) KCAW INTERVIEW

Jacqueline GrebmeierJacqueline Grebmeier is Research Professor and a biological oceanographer at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.  Dr. Grebmeier earned a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology from the University of California, Davis in 1977 and went on to receive Masters Degrees in Biology from Stanford University in 1978, and in Marine Affairs from the University of Washington in 1983, specializing in applications of Arctic science to Arctic policy.  Dr. Grebmeier earned a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1987.  She has played a leadership role in coordinating and promoting national and international arctic research. She is the U.S. delegate to, and a vice-president of the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), a current member of the U.S. Polar Research Board of the National Academies, and served formerly as a Commissioner of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission following appointment by President Clinton.  She has contributed to other coordinated international and national science planning efforts including service on the steering committee for U.S. efforts during International Polar Year. Over the last thirty years she has participated in over 45 oceanographic expeditions on both US and foreign vessels, many as Chief Scientist, and she was the overall project lead scientist for the U.S. Western Arctic Shelf-Basin Interactions project, which was one of the largest U.S. funded global change studies undertaken in the Arctic. Her research includes studies of pelagic-benthic coupling in marine systems, benthic carbon cycling, benthic faunal population structure, and polar ecosystem health. She has published approximately 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and has also served as editor of several books and journal special issues.  Her research is focused on understanding of how arctic marine ecosystems respond to environmental change, particularly efforts to illuminate the importance of benthic biological systems. Dr. Grebmeier is collaborating with Dr. Cooper (MARCH 2014) KCAW interview

Lee CooperLee Cooper is a Research Professor at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. He received his Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1987 following undergraduate and graduate work at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Washington. His research interests include biogeochemical cycling in high-latitude ecosystems through the use of isotopic and elemental tracers.  Applications of this work include understanding how arctic marine ecosystems are responding to climate change. Lee has extensive polar shipboard research experience on all three current U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers, including service as chief scientist coordinating several multidisciplinary research programs. He also served as a member of a National Academy of Sciences study committee on designing an Arctic Observing Network that has improved capabilities for detecting climate change in the Arctic. Lee has also been active in working to improve collaborative bi-national research in the Russian Arctic through participation as the U.S. representative in an International Arctic Science Committee specialist group that exchanges information with other arctic countries on multinational research activities in the Russian Arctic. He has been the lead or co-author of approximately100 peer-reviewed publications including high-impact journals such as Science, Nature, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Ecology, Marine Ecology Progress Series and Geophysical Research Letters.  (MARCH 2014) KCAW interview




2012/2013 SIRF Fellows:

 pete_raimondiPete Raimondi is a professor in and chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz. He received his PhD from UC Santa Barbara in 1988 and prior to his appointment at UC Santa Cruz had post-doctoral fellowships at the University of Melbourne in Australia and at UC Santa Barbara. He is the author of 100+ peer reviewed papers and technical reports on a wide range of topics, such as coral recruitment, kelp forest and rocky shore ecosystems, demography, molecular genetics, marine protected areas, wave energy, ecotoxicology, once-through cooling at power plants and desalinization facilities, nearshore oceanography and particularly design of monitoring programs. He advises numerous panels, including the California Marine Life Protection ACT (MLPA), the California Coastal Commission Scientific Advisory Panel, the Statewide Ocean Desalinization Task Force, National Marine Sanctuary Program (NOAA) and the California State Water Board Advisory Panel. His current projects include: (1) linking kelp genetics to ocean circulation models to assess connectivity of populations, (2) Assessment of patterns of biodiversity along the west coast of North America, (3) Baseline assessment of coastal resources in newly established marine protected areas in California and (4) Population and essential habitat assessment for the endangered species, black abalone. Dr. Raimondi will be in residence late July-Mid August, 2012.

nic-and-george-150x150Nic Blouin, University of Rhode Island. In a former life as a freelance photographer, Nic became increasingly interested in the natural beauty of marine macroalgae during trips to the shore. He began using seaweeds as subject matter in cyanotype images in similar ways that naturalists like Anna Atkins had done over 150 years ago. This fed into his naturalist’s curiosity regarding the complex ecology in the intertidal zone where organisms are subjected to daily fluctuations in temperature and nutrients, predation, and competition. Now, Nic’s interests broadly relate to life history evolution and how these adaptations function to provide mechanisms for organisms to persist as members in complex intertidal communities. He is currently focusing on a group of red seaweeds that have evolved to abandon photosynthesis and parasitize their closest evolutionary neighbors (adelphoparasitism). His interests here are principally related to the developmental similarities between the adelphoparasite and host life history stages, and how these evolutionary adaptations are conserved across both other adelphoparasites and alloparasites (those parasites infecting more distantly related red algae). In other words: what can change and which aspects of life history are constrained when an organism abandons a free-living life style? In a related project concerning organellar (plastid and mitochondrion) maintenance, Dr. Blouin and his colleagues are looking into the evolutionary trajectories of genes that have been transferred to the nucleus but still function in organelles. Dr. Bloiun will be residence in September, 2012. Watch a short video of Dr. Bloiun describing his work.

bernhard-in-sitka-150x150Bernhard Peucker-Ehrenbrink, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry. Dr. Peucker-Ehrenbrink is an isotope geochemist involved in the Global Rivers Observatory project ( After finishing high school in Osnabrück, Germany, he studied Geology and Mineralogy at the Technical University of Clausthal, receiving his undergraduate degree in 1985. From there, heI moved to the University of Göttingen where Bernhard completed his Geology Diploma in 1989. After 15 months of Civil Service in the University Medical Center in Göttingen, he joined Al Hofmann’s Geochemistry Department at the Max-Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz. In the fall of 1993, Bernhard spent three months as a guest student with Greg Ravizza at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). Following the completion of his PhD in 1994, Dr. Peucker-Ehrenbrink returned to WHOI as a postdoctoral scholar, and joined the scientific staff in 1996. Since 2010, he has been a Senior Scientist in the Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry. Dr. Peucker-Ehrenbrink will be in residence October, 2012. Listen to Dr. Peucker-Ehrenbrink discuss his project with KCAW reporter Ed Ronco.   Dr. Peucker-Ehrenbrink continues to work with local students on collection of local samples for his Global Rivers Project, with sampling occurring monthly.

AKStimpert-3581_sm-150x150Alison Stimpert is a Research Associate in the Oceanography department at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Her primary interests lie in the intersection of bioacoustics and conservation. To study this, she uses suction-cup acoustic tags to correlate sound production with underwater behavior of marine mammals. Currently, Dr. Stimpert is focusing on the effects of anthropogenic sound on the social behavior and foraging ecology of cetaceans in southern California, particularly Risso’s dolphins and fin whales. This is in addition to maintaining a long time research program on humpback whale acoustic behavior, which has included the waters around Hawaii, Massachusetts, Alaska, and Antarctica. Gaining an understanding of the behavioral context of whale sound production will aid our interpretation of how anthropogenic sound in the ocean may affect whale populations, and can also be used in conservation and management strategies for remote monitoring of whale behavior and movements. Dr. Stimpert will be in residence mid-March – mid-April, 2013. Watch an introduction to Alison here: and listen to an interview on KCAW here:

Dr. H. Gary GreeneProfessor H. Gary Greene obtained a PhD degree in Marine Geology from Stanford University in 1977, a Master of Science degree from San Jose State University, Moss Landing Marine Labs in 1970 with a major in Geophysics, and a Bachelor of Science in Geology/Paleontology from Long Beach State University in 1966. His experience comes from an extensive professional career in marine sciences including over 28 years as a Geologist and Program Manager at the United States Geological Survey, over 14 years as Director and Professor of Geological Oceanography at Moss Landing Marine Labs, and as a Principal Marine Geologist with CapRock Geology. He has taught upper-division and graduate courses ranging from Marine Geophysics to Spatial Ecology and has been a principal advisor to over 20 graduate students. Dr Greene’s professional interest lies in global tectonics, principally structural deformation associated with transform plate margins, submarine canyon origin and evolution, tsunami generation, and marine benthic habitat characterization, a field of study that he has pioneered in regard to mapping habitat types. His scientific studies range from investigations undertaken along the entire west coast of the US, including extensive work in Alaska, to over 10 years of study in the South Pacific, which culminated in him becoming a Co-Chief Scientist of a Deep Sea Drilling Program (DSDP) leg that investigated the subduction processes associated with the plate collision that formed the New Hebrides Trench in Vanuatu. Presently he is Emeritus Professor at Moss Landing Marine Labs where he is Director of the Center for Habitat Studies and a habitat mapping field station, Tombolo, on Orcas Island, Washington, a Research Faculty member at Friday Harbor Labs, University of Washington, and Adjunct Professor at California University, Fresno. He is a member of many professional societies and has organized a series of international conferences. Dr. Greene was in residence mid August-mid September, 2013. Listen to Dr. Greene on KCAW: LBSHW_GARY

Joe Cook Joe Cook is Professor of Biology at the University of New Mexico where he also serves as Director, Curator of Mammals, and Curator of Genomic Resources at the Museum of Southwestern Biology. Previously, he was Professor of Biology and Chief Curator at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1990-2001) and then was Chair of the Biology Department at Idaho State University (2000-2003). He is heavily involved in efforts to encourage greater participation of underrepresented students, especially Native Americans, in biology. His research has built large museum collections (traditional and genomic) that are digitally web-accessible. He now chairs the AIM-UP! Research Coordinating Network sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which is exploring new ways to incorporate museum collections and associated big data into education initiatives and curriculum reform. His research focuses on conservation, molecular evolution and systematics of mammals and associated parasites, producing over 125 peer-reviewed publications, including the book, Recent Mammals of Alaska. Over two decades, he led two international, specimen-based field projects aimed at understanding the biogeography of Beringia (Beringian Coevolution Project) and Alexander Archipelago (ISLES). Most recently, he co-founded Collaborative Integrated Investigations of Arctic Biomes to engage local communities, resource managers, and botanists, parasitologists and mammalogists from academia in building site-intensive and spatially-extensive Archival Observatories to explore the relationships between environmental change, natural resource management, and human health at high latitudes. (OCTOBER 2013). Listen to Joe’s morning interview:  and his interview with Matt Goff, (Radio Show #39).

 shawn-and-shannon-and-skull-150x150 Shannon Atkinson, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Dr. Atkinson is a Professor at  the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Juneau.  Her research has focused on physiology of marine mammals and why species fail to adapt to environmental change. Dr. Atkinson lead a high school class in Juneau called “Dem Bones” and was the lead on the 2011/2012 re-articulation of a young killer whale whose skeleton is now on display at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Dr. Aktinson’s participation in SIRF was funded by the Karsh Family Foundation and the Skaggs Foundation.


For more information contact Victoria O’Connell