PROFESSOR Selina Stead has been appointed director of the Institute of Aquaculture at Stirling University. She takes up her new post on March 1.
Stead (pictured) is currently Dean, Public Orator and Professor of Marine Governance and Environmental Science at Newcastle University, where she has worked for the past 15 years.
In July 2017 she was named the government’s chief scientific adviser for the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), and will play a key role in the development of marine policy post-Brexit.
She was also the chair and founder member of the Scottish government’s Marine Science Advisory Board, where she served from 2010 to 2017.
And she is a prize winning former president of the European Aquaculture Society (EAS), which in 2016 awarded her its highest honour, the Distinguished Service Award, to recognise her commitment to finding global marine food security solutions for vulnerable coastal communities across the world.
Stead takes over the IoA at an exciting time, with £17 million funding from the City Region Deal to build a new aquaculture hub, and the Institute’s 40th anniversary celebrations to mark next year.
‘Universities are funded to support the community and we need to focus on what we, as a university, can do to support aquaculture at local, national, regional and international levels,’ said Stead.
‘The funding through the City Region Deal provides the perfect opportunity for Stirling to continue its work in this area.
‘I look forward to working with colleagues across the university to mark the Institute’s landmark anniversary next year – and help ensure that it continues to go from strength to strength over the next 40 years.’
Stead spent more than 12 years in Scotland, undertaking her PhD at Aberdeen University, carrying out post-doctoral work with Marine Scotland, and holding two positions at the university between 1996 and 2004.
She was instrumental in bringing the European Aquaculture Society conference to Edinburgh in 2016.
‘Wherever I’m working around the world I’m always waving the flag for aquaculture in Scotland,’ she told Fish Farmer (Fish Update’s sister publication) in an interview for the January issue.
Her current and recent research spans marine science and governance of coral reef ecosystems; fisheries management and piracy in East Africa, Oman, Somalia and the UK; sea cucumber biology in South Africa; seaweed aquaculture in Malaysia; community based management in Nigeria, and; marine governance of Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, South Pacific, and the western Indian Ocean.
Stead said her priorities at the IoA would include ‘how we make best strategic use of the City Deal investment’.
She also plans to promote the merits of the industry, including Scotland’s salmon sector, to a wider audience.
‘There’s an amazing story about aquaculture which unfortunately I don’t believe always gets told as well as it could,’ she said.
‘I’ve seen too many documentaries when it’s too one sided, some of the arguments fuelling that negative perception of the salmon industry.’
While countering such perceptions is a Scotland-wide challenge, she sees a distinct role for the Institute.
This will involve harnessing the student body, and using their energy and technological skills to spread the word about the industry.
‘We’ve got students, we’ve got ambassadors, we can use digital technology to tell the wider benefits of aquaculture.’
She also wants to improve communications across the Institute, from the website to the way her colleagues express themselves, using blogs, for example, to tell people what the staff and students are doing.
Professor Maggie Cusack, dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Professor Stead to her new position at the University of Stirling, as head of the Institute of Aquaculture.
‘Professor Stead is a highly respected marine biologist, who has held a number of distinguished roles throughout her career, including her current position as the UK government’s chief scientific adviser for the Marine Management Organisation.’
Stirling boss: Fish Farmer, January 2019 https://issuu.com/fishfarmermagazine/docs/fish_farmer_january_2019