Oregon Sea Grant Director Named

Stephen Brandt has been named the director of the Oregon Sea Grant Program, based at Oregon State University.

Brandt, the director of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will begin his Oregon duties in January of 2009. Robert Malouf was the previous Oregon Sea Grant director, from 1991 until his retirement in June. Jay Rasmussen, Sea Grant’s associate director and Extension program leader, is serving as interim director.

Brandt has directed the Great Lakes lab since 1997. Both an oceanographer and freshwater scientist by training, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and has had several academic appointments, including as a professor with the University of Maryland’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory and as director of the Great Lakes Center for Environmental Research and Education with the State University of New York College at Buffalo.

The ecology and management of marine and freshwater ecosystems are his principal scientific interests and expertise. He is an author on more than 90 scientific articles, has given more than 220 scientific presentations, and led more than 80 scientific research cruises. Brandt also has received many awards, including the prestigious Presidential Rank Award.

“Steve Brandt is not only a talented scientist, he is a nationally-recognized scientific leader,” said John Cassady, OSU’s vice president for research. “Under his leadership, the NOAA Great Lakes lab has grown significantly and has established a reputation for innovation and collaboration.”

During the first seven years of Brandt’s tenure as director of the Great Lakes lab, its federal budget grew by more than 50 percent, to more than $9 million. In 2004 he created a NOAA Center of Excellence for Great Lakes and Human Health, obtaining $7.2 million in funding for 11 institutions. He also created the NOAA National Center for Invasive Species Research, headquartered at the Great Lakes lab.

Brandt served as deputy assistant administrator of all NOAA research during 2006, helping to oversee about 900 employees and a budget of more than $300 million.

For all this, Brandt said he is “extremely pleased” to be taking over the leadership of Oregon Sea Grant. “It is well recognized as one of the best Sea Grant programs in the nation, particularly noted for its strength in Extension, communications and education,” he said.

 “Now we’re embarking on a new era,” he added, “in which there are great opportunities for forward-looking research and new partnerships that address both the needs of Oregon and the vital Pacific region of which we’re part.”

While the Oregon Sea Grant program has a 40-year history of marine research and outreach, Brandt is no stranger to Sea Grant. In 2001 he started a Great Lakes Sea Grant Extension Office that represented a first-in-the-nation effort to connect NOAA research to the outreach capabilities of Sea Grant (which is a partnership between NOAA and the states). He also serves in advisory capacities to the Michigan and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs and as a reviewer of science projects for numerous programs.

But his Sea Grant roots go even deeper. As a Wisconsin graduate research assistant, he was a “Sea Grant scholar”; and in the mid-1980s he was the named “Sea Grant fisheries professor” with the State University of New York. In that capacity he succeeded Robert Malouf – just as he now will as the Oregon Sea Grant director.

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