Centennial Story 70: Craig Staude (BS, 1971; MS, 1979; PhD, 1986) Amphipod Specialist and Jack of All Trades at Friday Harbor Laboratories

While still an undergraduate at UW in the late 1960s, I worked hourly as a lab helper in the College of Fisheries Laboratory of Radiation Ecology for Allyn Seymour (PhD, 1956) and Bob Ericksen (MS, 1966; PhD, 1971). This was followed by an eye-opening summer project at Petersburg, Alaska, in 1971 with Don Beyer (MS, 1973; PhD, 1977) under the supervision of Roy Nakatani (PhD, 1960). The project included fieldwork, lab analysis, and eventually, my first co-authored publication on the effects of salmon cannery waste.

Measuring ratfish with Bruce Miller following a trawl aboard the R/V Nugget
Measuring ratfish with Bruce Miller following a trawl aboard the R/V Nugget

After a short stint in the Navy and some fieldwork with the California Fish and Game kelp habitat project, I returned to the College of Fisheries for graduate studies. I always had an affinity for crustaceans and hoped to study shrimp aquaculture under Ken Chew. However, at that point in time, Ken needed grad students for the METRO Studies relating to the impact of sewage on the marine environment. I joined grad students John Armstrong (PhD, 1979) and Ron Thom (PhD, 1978) in a comprehensive survey of Seattle beaches, focusing on crustaceans and especially my new-found love: amphipods. My MS thesis compared the macrofauna at the West Point Treatment Plant over a five-year period.

With my thesis only partially completed, I travelled to Friday Harbor Labs (FHL) to examine a collection of amphipods in the lab of Carl Nyblade. Carl needed an amphipod specialist for his surveys of the San Juan Islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca, and hired me (and my wife Krispi) on the spot. This experience greatly broadened my grasp of the local amphipod fauna, and I was honored when Eugene Kozloff invited me to write a key to amphipods for his “Marine Invertebrates of the Pacific Northwest.” I was able to identify a suitable project for a PhD dissertation from what I learned in these studies. My committee Chair Ken Chew invited Gene Kozloff (UW Dept of Zoology) and Ed Bousfield (National Museum of Canada) to serve as external advisors. Thus began my research to clarify the taxonomy of the amphipod genus Paramoera, and to study the natural history of locally abundant species, which are at times significant in the diet of fishes.

Demonstrating the confocal microscope at Friday Harbor Labs
Demonstrating the confocal microscope at Friday Harbor Labs

I was in the right place at the right time when a vacancy for a marine technologist opened at FHL. This support helped me to finish my dissertation and build our home on San Juan Island.  I served as a dive buddy, boat operator, specimen collector, tour guide, aquarist, and whatever else needed to be done, including organizing the open house and putting band aids in the first aid kits. I became skilled in the use of specialized microscopes and the configuration and maintenance of desktop computers. Eventually, I became the go-to “computer guy” and built-out the computer network of the Labs.

When FHL was given a 43-ft troller, Bob Donnelly (PhD, 1983) helped convert it into a functional trawler, using many surplus pieces from the College of Fisheries. With David Duggins, the other marine tech at FHL, I ran the R/V Nugget for about 25 years, taking students out on field trips and collecting specimens for research by independent investigators. The Labs eventually purchased a 58-ft Alaskan limit-seiner, and I became one of the four captains of the R/V Centennial.

It has been a pleasure to assist so many students and scientists at Friday Harbor Labs for over three decades, including many folks from SAFS, such as Si Simenstad (BS, 1969; MS, 1971), Bruce Miller, Vince Gallucci, Dave Armstrong, Ray (BS, 1963; MS, 1969; PhD, 1997) and Marta (MS, 2000; PhD ongoing) Buckley, and Jeff Cordell (MS, 1986). Since retirement in 2014, I’ve continued to help out at FHL and advise students on the identification of amphipods.

My wife and I now spend about three months of each year in Costa Rica, where our daughter Sarah Joy, her husband, and our two grandkids live. My interest in amphipods now includes tropical species, and I occasionally volunteer at the Crustacean Lab at the University of Costa Rica.

At the helm of the R/V Centennial
At the helm of the R/V Centennial
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