From Professor Billie J. Swalla, FHL Interim Director

I want to first offer my warmest thanks to former FHL Director Ken Sebens, who is continuing to do research, teaching and outreach at FHL. During Ken’s nearly eight years as Director of FHL, the spring, fall and summer course offerings were increased, opening up new avenues for UW undergraduate students to spend a quarter at FHL. Ken also obtained a number of important NSF grants for FHL, including the highly successful GK-12 OACIS grant and the Ocean Acidification Environmental Laboratory (OAEL) at FHL. Ken saw FHL through a difficult time of financial constraints, all the while increasing the number of students and researchers who visit FHL each year. You can find Ken in Lab 9, if he is not out research diving. Best wishes, Ken!

Good News to Share!

ESCO “greening” project $533,147 from the Washington State Commerce Dept. We have received the formal grant letter, are undergoing the Project Review internal UW check now, and expect to soon approve McKinstry to continue with design and construction. Many thanks to Adam Summers for his work to obtain this grant.

Congratulations to several newly minted PhDs in spring of 2013 that did much of their research at Friday Harbor Labs. We wish you many continued successes!

Dr. Michael Hannam (PhD School of Environmental and Forest Sciences)
"The Influence of Multiple Scales of Environmental Context on the Distribution and Interaction of an Invasive Seagrass and its Native Congener"
June 14, 2013

Committee members: Kern Ewing (School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, Pete Dowty (WDNR), Monika Moskal (School of Environmental and Forest Sciences), Jennifer Ruesink (Biology) and Sandy Wyllie-Echeverria (FHL).

Dr. Aaron Galloway (PhD School of Aquatic and Fishery Science)
“Trophic transfer of nearshore basal resources: interpreting fatty acid and stable isotope biomarkers”
May 8, 2013

Committee Members: Michael Brett (SAFS & Civil and Environmental Engineering), David Duggins (FHL), Megan Dethier (Biology & FHL), and Ken Sebens (Biology & FHL)

Dr. Max Maliska (PhD Biology)
“The evolutionary implications of alternative larval development in ascidians”
May 17, 2013

Committee members: Joe Felsenstein (Biology), Carolyn Friedman (SAFS & FHL), Richard Olmstead (Biology), Billie Swalla (Biology) and Richard Strathmann (Biology & FHL).

Finally, follow the pursuits of one of our former PhD’s, Dr. Robin Elahi, in a separate article in this Newsletter.

Congratulations to Megan Dethier, David Duggins and Aaron Galloway for their spring article on tracking algae through the marine food web through fatty acids featured in MEPS (Marine Ecology Progress Series) “Addressing assumptions: variation in stable isotopes and fatty acids of marine macrophytes can confound conclusions of food web studies

Did you know that fatty acids, such as omega-3 are made by algae and then they pass through the food chain to fish that we then eat as a healthy meal? Read all about it here!

Here is a very cool video made by Friday Harbor's 6th grade class to thank FHL for Marine Expert Day.

Many thanks to Jenny Roberts, our superior outreach coordinator, and the Marine Experts who gave their time and shared expertise with the students!
Katie Dobkowski, Hilary Hayford, Colin Hermans, Pema Kitaeff, Alex Lowe, Moose O'Donnell, Jenny Roberts, Derek Smith, Craig Staude.

Some of you may have heard of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO who recently wrote a book about women in leadership positions called “Lean in.” Do any of you know an FHL connection to this popular book?

I bought and read the book, and I am well educated on gender issues, but still, there were times to pause and contemplate the implications. The Equal Pay Act was passed 50 years ago and still in 2013 women make about 75% of what their male counterparts make. Sigh. Much of “Lean In” makes me sigh, because it documents difficult work and career decisions that women make and I don’t see an easy solution. While mentoring the next generation of scientists, I do my best to help them identify their choices, which are usually broader than what they imagine, and then help them to fulfill those goals. The book is all about how women should “Lean In” to become aspiring leaders and find their true potential, because we need more female leaders. As the FHL Interim Director for the next 18 months, I promise to lean in to the best of my ability and give my 100% to FHL’s future.

I reflect on the courses that I taught this spring and I am optimistic and inspired. Nothing is more invigorating than being in Lab 4 at FHL and watching sea squirt embryos cleaving with a group of motivated students. Wow, those embryos are beautiful!! No one has ever seen anything like them. They are orange, and covered in different cell layers. Students who learn about these embryos will never forget ascidians, or their beautiful embryos. As the students stare through their microscopes, I feel the spirits of Bob Fernald and Arthur Whiteley in the lab and the hundreds of students who have studied there. “What is this?” “That is the spindle starting to form during the first cell cycle.” Note the orientation and where the cell will cleave. We are all standing on the shoulders of the scientists that came before us. But what makes us want to learn? Why do we ask questions? What do we do when we don’t get the answer that we want? Do we quit?

Or, do we “lean in?” Do we work to find that answer, that no one seems to answer to our satisfaction? A true scientist just works to find the answer. Let’s look it up. Is it in the textbook? Is the answer in a database? Did someone learn the answer and just never wrote it down in a way that others could read it? One of the most exciting parts of teaching here at FHL is to be able to teach your students to think like a scientist. As usual, I had a terrific group of students, researching intractable problems, but gaining insight into the mechanisms of how animal embryos develop. Working with these bright, engaged students, I can’t help but envision a brilliant future for Marine Biology and FHL. We are in the midst of our busy summer season. Session B students have just arrived. Over 100 students have visited FHL this summer to do research and attend courses at FHL and many researchers continue to arrive from all over the world. Enjoy learning and “Leaning In!!”