UMass-Amherst to place professor at Hodgkins Cove lab

PAUL BILODEAU/Staff file photoThe University of Massachusetts plans to have a new extension faculty member on site at its Gloucester Marine Laboratory in Hodgkins Cove by late summer or early fall.

GLOUCESTER — The University of Massachusetts Amherst has established a permanent, full-time extension faculty position at its Gloucester Marine Laboratory, a formative step in developing its vision for the research facility in Hodgkins Cove, according to lab director Adrian Jordaan.

Jordaan said the university has pared the applicant pool to three finalists for the extension position. It has established a special seminar series in Gloucester for local stakeholders to meet the three candidates and listen to presentations on their vision for the laboratory.

The title of the seminar series is “University, Extension and Gloucester: Options for the future of the Marine Laboratory.”

Each of the three Gloucester-based seminars will feature a finalist for the new extension faculty position and is scheduled to run from noon to 1 p.m. at the Lanesville Community Center at 8 Vulcan St. They are open to all stakeholders and the public.

“This is part of our ongoing effort to explore the best direction for the facility in relation to the many stakeholders with whom we will work, including the Division of Marine Fisheries, NOAA and the fishing community,” said Jordaan, an assistant professor at UMass Amherst and the director of the Gloucester Marine Laboratory. “This will help us further develop an understanding for the best road forward.”

The creation of the extension faculty position, which will carry the rank of assistant professor in the university’s Department of Environmental Conservation, is the first public action associated with the longtime lab since the internationally respected Large Pelagics Research Center moved out last year and changed its affiliation within the UMass system.

The Large Pelagics Research Center now is part of the School for the Environment at UMass Boston and operates out of offices on East Main Street in East Gloucester.

During its tenure at Hodgkins Cove, the pelagics research center earned an international reputation for groundbreaking research of bluefin tuna and other highly migratory pelagic species.

Burdened by state budget constraints, declining private donations and an often-tenuous relationship with administrators in Boston and Amherst, the pelagics research crew led by Molly Lutcavage funded their work by cobbling together a network of grants and other funding sources.

Jordaan conceded state budget constraints still exist, but said the university administration showed its commitment to the Gloucester lab by creating the extension faculty position.

He said the future direction of the laboratory will include classroom and research elements and largely will be defined by the successful candidate’s vision and experience.

“We really looking for someone with the qualities of leadership and the ability to engage stakeholders,” Jordaan said. “And we expect the lab to be integrated into every aspect of the UMass program

He said he hopes to wrap up the hiring process in the early part of 2017, with the new extension faculty member on site in Gloucester by late summer or early fall.

The first seminar is scheduled for Thursday and will feature Ingrid Biedron, a marine scientist at Oceana. Biedron’s presentation is titled: “Center for Coastal Resilience: Charting futures for local communities.”

The second, scheduled for Jan. 26, will feature Joshua Gunn, a senior research associate at Texas A&M’s Galveston campus. Gunn’s presentation includes “addressing North Shore issues while developing future extension and research professionals” at the Gloucester lab.

The last session will be Feb. 2 and will feature Maya Groner, a post-doctorate fellow at the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences at the College of William & Mary. Groner is set to speak on “tracking moving targets for adaptive management of fisheries and coastal habitats” by using case studies with lobsters, seagrass and salmon.

Jordaan said there should be time after each presentation for questions.

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