The University of Alaska Fairbanks just announced its intention to place a new faculty member at its facility in Kodiak. The move is part of the growing seaweed industry in Alaska.
On Tuesday, UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences dean, Bradley Moran, visited Kodiak to explain the decision.
He said the new staff member will teach and research mariculture, which includes shellfish and seaweed.
Kodiak has recently ventured into the world of seaweed cuisine through Blue Evolution, which turns seaweed into pasta products and has hired harvesters in the area.
Moran says Blue Evolution’s presence in Kodiak is one element in UAF’s decision to place the new faculty member in Kodiak.
“Kodiak does need more faculty. There’s a lot of capacity here in terms of laboratories that are unutilized, frankly. We’re trying to ensure that each of our satellite campuses, if you like, are sustainable, and Kodiak is being invested in right now in that regard.”
The facility’s advocates are hoping the addition will make the future of the UAF facility more secure.
The legislature established the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center on Near Island in 1981 as a research center for Alaska seafood. It once had significant federal funding, but in the last few years has faced possible closure due to university budget issues.
Jay Stinson, president of the Alaska Research Consortium, admits the staff addition is just one step forward.
“But what it does show and demonstrates to me is the university’s commitment to the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center.”
According to Moran, the staff position will be filled in about a year and will be tenured. A researcher at the facility said the professor would join a total staff of about seven people.