KBC director resigns to transition into new career

Dr. Reid Brewer will take up a NOAA position at Kasitsna Bay Lab

Kenai Peninsula College’s Kachemak Bay Campus will soon be looking for someone new to take the reins.

The college announced in a Nov. 28 press release that current campus director Dr. Reid Brewer is resigning, and he will be taking a new position as the Kasitsna Bay Lab Director and the Supervisory Environmental Scientist for the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration starting Jan. 16, 2024.

Dr. Paula Martin will serve as the interim campus director beginning on Dec. 10. According to the press release, Martin previously served as interim director at KBC before Brewer was hired on. Martin has also previously served the university in several other capacities.

Brewer joined the KBC team as campus director in May 2019, but he’s worked for the University of Alaska for over 20 years as both a faculty member and an administrator. He’s also been employed by all three UA institutions — University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast and University of Alaska Anchorage — “at different levels” over the years, he told Homer News in a Dec. 1 interview, including working with Alaska Sea Grant for UAF and as the director of the UAS Fish Tech applied fisheries program.

With a background in marine biology, administration, and education outreach and research, Brewer said the position at the Kasitsna Bay Lab represents a “perfect storm” of the things he is passionate about.

“Really, I wasn’t looking for work. I love the college and this campus, I’ve loved my time here. But I have a master’s and PhD in marine biology, 10 years of experience in administration and 15 years in education outreach research specifically related to marine biology,” Brewer said. “When the opportunity came up for this position, it represented a place where I could use my background and skill set.”

The Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, located across Kachemak Bay near Seldovia, is a field station for the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, or NCCOS, under NOAA’s National Ocean Service. According to their website, the lab “conducts research on coastal impacts of climate change, ocean acidification, harmful algal blooms, and oil spills and hosts federal, state, tribal, and university researchers.”

As the lab director and supervisory environmental scientist, Brewer will represent the Kasitsna Bay Lab for NOAA.

“NOAA is the main organization that I’ll be employed through,” he said.

Brewer said that his job as lab director will be “to do good science that will serve the needs of the stakeholders in the local area,” including fisheries managers, sports fishermen and recreational users. Additionally, he will be responsible for connecting with the community and working with other nonprofits and organizations in the Kachemak Bay area in collecting research from the bay.

“Some of our natural partners are KBC, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Fish and Game. We try to build that idea of putting info about the bay into people’s hands,” he said. “Part of (the job) is managing the lab, facilities and people that work there, part of it is doing research in Kachemak Bay, and part of it is connecting with stakeholders and the larger NOAA body in Alaska and the rest of the United States.”

Brewer said that the process for hiring a new permanent campus director should be put into gear soon.

“The process will probably start before the holidays. The announcement will go out, hopefully the new person will start in the summer of 2024,” he said. “We’d like to bring them on in the summer so they can get their feet under them and get to know other people who work here before the fall semester.”

In the meantime, Martin coming on board as interim director starting Dec. 10 will allow a period of overlap for Brewer to “bring her up to speed” on the many new programs and projects available at KBC.

“We’ve really built capacity for trying to connect with the community in different ways,” Brewer said. “We have a new sustainable agriculture program that’s really taken off lately. We just purchased the Young’s property, so someone will get to work on how that will evolve in the future. We’re continuing to offer really robust non-credit classes and want to continue to build out that program. KBC will be a partial host of the Kachemak Bay Science Conference in March, and we’ll host the Kachemak Bay Writers Conference and the commencement ceremony in May. There’s just a lot of events that are now hosted here on campus, that require logistics and time and planning.

“Paula understands how the campus and the college work. This is just an opportunity for us to get on the same page so she has all the tools she needs to go forward,” he said.

Though Brewer is leaving KBC, the Kasitsna Bay Lab directorship will hold plenty of opportunity to work in partnership with the college, and Brewer will “continue to collaborate with the team of which he has been a part,” the press release states.

“I’ve loved my time working for the university, and I hope to continue partnering with a lot of the people I’ve worked with over the years,” Brewer said. “Even though it’s bittersweet to leave the university, my family and I are staying in Homer and we’ll continue to connect with the community in any way we can.”