Dr. Ginny Eckert was appointed director of the Alaska Sea Grant Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks earlier this month. The announcement came from UAF Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Anupma Prakash, whose office now oversees the program. Based in Juneau, Eckert served in the roles of acting and interim director since summer 2019, and before that was Alaska Sea Grant’s associate director for research since 2013.
In addition to her Sea Grant role, Eckert will continue as a professor in the Fisheries Department at the Juneau Center of the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, where she teaches and conducts research in marine ecology, mariculture, and fisheries in Alaska.
“I am pleased that Dr. Eckert is taking on this important leadership role,” said Provost Prakash. “She brings seven years of leadership experience at Alaska Sea Grant and 20 years of expertise in Alaskan coastal resource issues. This experience is an asset to this multi-million dollar program that is vital to UAF’s mission as a land, sea and space grant institution.”
Dr. Eckert is an expert on Alaska’s living marine resources, and has a distinguished career training the next generation of scientists for a variety of career paths, and engaging communities and the public in science activities. She has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, a master’s degree from the University of Florida and a doctorate from the University of California Santa Barbara. She has authored over 50 scientific publications and is an active scientific SCUBA diver and avid boater.
Quentin Fong, Alaska Sea Grant’s business and seafood marketing specialist at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center, pointed to Eckert’s research in areas affecting the Alaska commercial fishing and mariculture industries as excellent background to support the program’s mission to provide community and industry support grounded in science. “Her work in coastal Alaska and years of experience leading Alaska Sea Grant’s research program will help integrate our science more closely with our outreach efforts, for instance, our efforts in helping develop and promote Alaska’s fledgling shellfish and seaweed farming industry through research and education,” said Fong.
As with other programs throughout the University of Alaska system, Alaska Sea Grant has seen a reduction in state funding. The program continues to focus its mission on responding to the needs of Alaska’s coastal communities. For example, current efforts are providing resources for communities and the fishing industry to navigate uncertainty during the current pandemic.
“Ginny really stepped up and has done a great job providing continuity as we’ve made some big transitions in Sea Grant these last few years,” said Sunny Rice, the program’s agent in Petersburg. “She has fought hard to ensure our continued success in these difficult budget times, and to help us find additional funding to maintain and expand our program.”
“Alaska Sea Grant is a talented organization working in coastal communities throughout Alaska,” said Eckert. “I look forward to continuing to support researchers and faculty, who address issues of importance to all Alaskans, from seafood safety and production, to healthy coasts and ecosystems, to preparing for climate changes and natural or manmade disasters.”
Eckert is the eighth director in the 50-year history of Alaska Sea Grant. Alaska Sea Grant is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and UAF. It is one of 34 Sea Grant programs across the country, and supports research, education, and extension activities that enhance the ability of Alaskans to understand, conserve and sustainably use Alaska’s rich and diverse marine and coastal resources.