SAFS Spring / Summer 2020 Newsletter – Director’s Message

André PuntDear Friends,

Six months ago, I was writing to you about our new full-color printed newsletter and our preparations for the class in Alaska this summer. Well… how things have changed since then!

The health and safety of everyone in SAFS is our collective top priority. As most of you know, our spring teaching was conducted remotely; the same will be true of almost all of our fall teaching. Fortunately, we have managed to keep our critical lab and field work running, although that has involved a lot of effort to develop effective health and safety plans. These academic and research changes, as well as changes in our administrative and operational procedures, have brought out the best in everyone in SAFS. Terms such as “Zoom,” “Google Hangout,” and “Microsoft Teams” are now mentioned as often as “grant call,” “defense,” and “new publication.”

Spring quarter events following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and others also reminded us that we are part of a much larger community. This led to heartache, anger, and acute awareness that the pursuit of achieving our commitments and goals for an equitable and safe School is paramount. This newsletter includes the first-ever report by our Equity & Inclusion Committee on some of the work being undertaken in SAFS to make us more diverse and equitable. I am also pleased that the 2021 Bevan Series will be dedicated to the role of aquatic science in fostering a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable STEM community. SAFS graduate students proposed that we use our premier seminar series (The Bevan Series on Sustainable Fisheries) to highlight diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, with issues and solutions occurring nationally and within the academy. The final line-up of speakers will reflect input from our community—students, staff, and faculty. Watch our website for more information.

The response to the article in the previous issue of SAFS News—about SAFS research in the tropics and the arctic—was overwhelming. So, in this issue, we decided to highlight SAFS research in our own backyard—Washington State. This article is fully interactive!

We are always thankful to our donors for their support and have decided to add a “who are our donors” feature to SAFS News. In this issue, we include a conversation with John Connelly, the President of the National Fisheries Institute (NFI), which has been supporting Ray Hilborn’s research on fisheries. We also profile Usha and Rao Varanasi, who have been supporters of the School for decades (Usha was the director of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center from 1994 to 2010). The Varanasis now support the School through endowments that provide funding for students who are interested in the quantitative aspects of fisheries, as well as for the Research Derby, which has been so successful since 2014.

This issue is jammed packed with other articles, including the latest news from Sarah Yerrace (BS, 2019); the awards our students, staff, and faculty have received in the last six months; and work being conducted by Sarah Converse and Amanda Warlick on pigeon guillemots in Puget Sound, and by Jessica Hale on sea otters.

Enjoy and keep safe.

André Punt

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