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Christie to direct UAF undersea research center

Submitted by Carin Bailey
Phone: (907) 474-7208


Fairbanks, ALASKA--The University of Alaska Fairbanks has appointed David Christie as the director of the West Coast and Polar Regions Undersea Research Center and the Global Undersea Research Unit.

The WC&PR Center is one of six regional centers in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Undersea Research Program and GURU is an academic research unit within the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Both programs support undersea research for marine scientists and geologists by providing access to manned submersibles, remotely operated vehicles, scuba diving and underwater labs.

"I'm looking forward to developing new ways to make our research facilities and technologies accessible to more students and scientists," said Christie.

Christie previously served as a professor of marine geology and geophysics at Oregon State University. He received his doctorate from the University of Hawaii in geology and geophysics in 1984. His research interests focus on the interplay of tectonic forces and volcanic processes in the deep ocean.

"The challenges of this new position will be to develop new partnerships and continue to offer outstanding opportunities in a time of diminished national funding," said Christie.

In 2006, the WC&PR Center has awarded $760,000 to nine projects. Funded projects include studies of hydrothermal vents in the Juan de Fuca Ridge, squid reproduction near Monterey Bay, and essential fish habitat for juvenile rockfishes. The research center also provides funding for science conferences, including the Kachemak Bay Science Conference held this spring.

The Global Undersea Research Unit emphasizes seafloor research in marine biology and geology and administers the University of Alaska Cold Water Diving Program. The diving program trains and certifies scientific divers and has approximately 47 active divers. GURU offers courses at the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, a marine lab near Seldovia jointly operated with NOAA.

"Dr. Christie brings the dedication and experience necessary to help our programs evolve," said Denis Wiesenburg, dean of the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. "His appointment comes at a critical time as the National Undersea Research Program centers take on a new role within NOAA."

In 2008, the undersea research center will partner with its Hawaii counterpart, the Hawaii Undersea Research Lab, and other NOAA groups to sponsor a joint expedition along the West Coast and in the Gulf of Alaska. The expedition will focus on research using manned submersibles at depths as great as 6,000 feet.

The UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences conducts world-class marine and fisheries research, education and outreach across Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctic. More than 60 faculty scientists and 150 graduate students are engaged in building knowledge about Alaska and the world's coastal and marine ecosystems. SFOS is headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and serves the state from facilities located in Seward, Juneau, Anchorage and Kodiak.