January 30, 2015

2015 Alaska Marine Science Symposium: Another Success

841 registrants. 189 universities and agencies. 26 different U.S. states. 9 Alaska Native tribal regions. 5 Canadian Provinces/Territories. 3 countries. Another successful marine science symposium.

During the week of January 19th – 23rd, the Alaska Marine Science Symposium (AMSS), Alaska’s premier marine science conference, packed Hotel Captain Cook’s ballroom for yet another recount of marine research, powerful keynote addresses, cutting-edge technology presentations, and engaging workshops—focused on the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and Alaskan Arctic marine ecosystems. Over 70 oral presentations and more than 240 posters were presented at this year’s symposium.

AMSS 2015 began with a well-attended Communicating Ocean Sciences Workshop early Monday morning. Approximately 100 attendees joined the workshop to improve their ocean science communication skills. Six breakout sessions included field applications of Go-Pro cameras, school-based outreach, understanding the cultural and community aspects of rural Alaska, engaging citizens as scientists, and a behind-the-scenes look at a new animated film, Arctic Currents: A Year in the Life of the Bowhead Whale. Other notable workshops that occurred throughout AMSS included the Metadata Workshop, Telemetry Workshop, and Arctic Observations.

Dr. Jeremy Mathis (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory – National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), along with Anthony DeGange (Alaska Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey – retired) and Dr. Jennifer Francis (Rutgers Institute of Marine and Coastal Studies), delivered poignant keynote presentations that set the tone early for AMSS 2015. Dr. Mathis and Dr. Jennifer Francis discussed global implications of ocean acidification and climatic variations, respectively. They revealed how important and connected Alaska’s marine ecosystems are in a global context, and what trends may occur in the near future. Mr. DeGange shared an equally compelling story about ecosystem recolonization following a volcanic event in the Central Aleutians. Lastly, an Arctic panel comprised by David Kennedy, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Betsy Baker, University of Washington School of Law, Cheryl Rosa, U.S. Arctic Research Commission, and Craig Fleener, State of Alaska, emphasized the importance of Arctic marine research at different stakeholder levels, the need for coordinated efforts, and funding support as the U.S. prepares for a changing Arctic.

On Thursday, January 22nd, the film, Arctic Currents: A Year in the Life of the Bowhead Whale, premiered for the first time in its final version in St. Lawrence Island Yup'ik to a reverent audience silenced by the film’s creativity and computer animation.

AMSS 2015 hosted two evening poster sessions and three days of oral presentations, each dedicated to specific marine ecosystems off Alaska—Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and the Arctic. Of the 70 oral presentations, 18 (26%) were graduate student presentations at either the Master’s or PhD level. Each year, awards are presented to graduate students for best oral presentations and poster presentations at the high-school, undergraduate, and graduate (Master’s & PhD) level. Alaska Sea Grant presented awards to Lauren Bell (Master’s), UAF, and Ellen Chenoweth (PhD), UAF, for their best graduate oral presentations. Jordan Watson, UAF, and Justin Richard, URI, were awarded best posters by PhD students from the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB). Julia Dissen and Deanna Leonard, both at UAF, were awarded at the Master’s level for their posters also by NPRB. Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators (NAME) Alaska awarded Amanda Grimes, UAF, for her best undergraduate poster and Alisa Aist of Polaris High School at the high school level.

This year’s Marine Science Outreach Ocean Leadership Award, presented by the Alaska SeaLife Center (ASLC), was awarded to high school oceanography teacher, Ben Carney of Juneau-Douglas. Alisa Aist was recognized a second time with the Youth Ocean Leadership Award from ASLC. Sponsored by Dr. Clarence Pautzke and Dr. Maureen McCrae, the Marine Research Ocean Leadership Awards were presented to Jaqueline Grebmeier and Lee Cooper. Lastly, Dr. Vera Alexander received an award by the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center (PCCRC) in recognition of her lifetime achievements.

The organizing committee thanks all who attended, volunteered, and contributed to the 2015 annual Alaska Marine Science Symposium. Stay tuned at for more news and announcements about AMSS 2015 and 2016. Reminder—next year’s AMSS will be held 1/25-1/29, 2016 and be sure to follow AMSS @akmarinescience on Twitter.