Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo courtesy Roger Winstead.

Susan White, Executive Director, North Carolina Sea Grant. Photo courtesy Roger Winstead.

A new year brings new energy and opportunities for North Carolina Sea Grant.

We are pleased to welcome John Fear as our newest member of the Sea Grant — and the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina System — family. Granted, John’s been a close colleague as a Sea Grant advisory board member since 2006. His familiarity with our work has allowed him to hit the ground running with his new deputy director responsibilities for both programs.

John’s research background and proven track record with building strategic partnerships from his previous position as the research coordinator for the N.C. Coastal Reserve program will serve him well as he takes the reins of developing and executing the research portfolios of Sea Grant and WRRI.

It is a pleasure to have his perspectives already being integrated into both organizations. You’ll see his positive influence over the coming year as we bring researchers, students and the public together in new ways to ensure that the work we do meets the needs of our state and is delivered effectively. Send your welcome notes to John at

In January, we convened the Sea Grant advisory board to kick off the year with a renewed commitment of engagement from the board to assist in program direction and goals. We made a good start to define program “needs” to focus on in the coming five years — and will continue to refine these together this year. It is clear to me that in order for Sea Grant to be relevant in a rapidly changing funding and policy environment, we will need to continue to support research and extension excellence across a wide range of coastal resource needs.

This advisory board consists of committed individuals who are critical to our success as we prioritize efforts, investments and partnerships that ensure our product delivery and program sustainability. Visit the About NCSG tab at and look under Partners for a full list of our current advisory board members.

We are actively looking for a few new members to round out the board’s expertise. We also seek volunteers who are interested in bringing their own expertise to bear on our burgeoning efforts on building strategic partnerships, identifying research priorities, and diversifying funding opportunities for internal and external programs.

Supporting this board’s efforts and contributions is my single largest commitment to Sea Grant this year. I welcome your interests in joining me in these discussions and growing efforts.

This spring also brings a number of engaging activities. One of my favorites is the upcoming Blue Heron Bowl that will be on March 1 at North Carolina State University.

North Carolina Sea Grant is among the returning sponsors for this statewide marine science quiz. We wish these students the best of luck in their competition! Find out more about the bowl at The winner will represent the state at the national competition in Seattle this summer. I’ll be looking for these young scholars in the coming years to bring their energies and interests to support our state’s coastal resources.

Take some time to enjoy this issue of Coastwatch. As always, there is a mix of stories about research and outreach, and even a story for our young readers.

Be sure to check the back cover for information about our North Carolina Sea Grant Research Symposium: Investments and Opportunities that will be held April 16. I hope to see you there.

As always, feel free to contact me directly at

This letter was published in the Winter 2014 issue of Coastwatch.

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