Movers & Shakers 12/07/14

PND staff engineer earns fish disposal system patent

PND Engineers, Inc. Staff Engineer and University of Alaska Anchorage graduate Alexandra West, EIT, has been awarded U.S. Patent 8,833,682 B2 for a water-powered fish carcass disposal system, an innovation inspired by growing up on the Kenai Peninsula among fishermen, salmon, and wildlife. West designed a system that floats in a body of water, grinds fish carcasses into pieces, and returns them to the water. The goal is to decrease human-bear interactions by more thoroughly disposing of fish remains that otherwise attract dangerous predators to populated river areas.

The patent was awarded on Sept. 16, 2014. With this achievement, West also becomes the first student to earn a place on UAA’s Patent Wall of Fame, located in the UAA Administration Building, established by the Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Studies Dr. Helena Wisniewski to celebrate innovation, invention and entrepreneurship.

“I am very proud of Ms. West,” said Dr. Wisniewski. “She exemplifies the ideal student who applied her talent beyond her classroom studies. She observed a need and invented a device that will benefit fishermen and the environment, with the potential to contribute to the economy. I look forward to inducting her as the first student into the UAA Patent Wall of Fame.”

West grew up on the Kenai Peninsula, the daughter of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge manager. “As I grew up, I became aware of some of the environmental issues U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other agencies were working on associated with fish waste disposal along the Russian River at Cooper Landing,” she said.

In major fishing zones — such as the Russian River — fishermen often discard fish carcasses, either whole or in parts, along the banks or into the rivers. Even carcass parts discarded into the rivers can ultimately wind up on river banks after they are caught in eddy currents and slower currents. Carcasses have a potent smell and create an attractant for large predators, such as bears, which has led to numerous dangerous human-bear encounters.

The Russian River Interagency Coordination Group (RRICG), comprised of state, federal and tribal entities, has long campaigned to alleviate the problem by encouraging anglers to utilize hand grinders stationed along the banks, removing riverside fillet tables, suggesting that fish remains be chopped into small pieces for disposal, or having the anglers pack their catch out in one piece. Over the years, these options have been deemed fairly unsuccessful.

In 2011, in fulfillment of UAA’s Honors College curriculum, West was required to complete a senior undergraduate thesis related to her civil engineering major.

“I looked into a sustainable and easy option for fish waste disposal that would keep the salmon’s important nutrients in the ecosystem,” West said. “This solution involved a device comprised of a floating paddlewheel and grinder system, powered by the current, and attached to the bank via cables and a slide leading from a fillet table down to a hopper enclosing the grinder.”

Alternatively, the system can be operated using a generator to translate paddle wheel rotation into electricity to power a commercial grinder. “People could fillet their catch and toss the remainder of the fish down the slide to be ground up into tiny pieces and discharged back into the stream,” West said.

West created sketches and a conceptual design of the device, and was approached by Dr. Wisniewski to pursue a patent. She filed her provisional application in June 2012, and filed for the patent in June 2013. UAA paid for the initiation process, attorney fees, and patent upkeep.

“This grinder system could eventually benefit the fishing community and waterways in Alaska and other areas with abundant fisheries by removing unnecessary attractants to bears and keeping the important marine nutrients from our salmon in the ecosystem,” West said.

West has continued her interest in water resources and fish habitat at PND working on hydrology and fish habitat projects throughout the state. She is currently completing her master’s thesis project at UAA focusing on improved hydraulic modeling of fish passage culverts.

The full-service law firm Garvey Schubert Barer has added attorney Peter A. Sandberg to its Anchorage office. Sandberg’s primary areas of practice are in real estate class actions, commercial litigation, insurance coverage litigation and professional liability litigation. Sandberg is originally from Alaska where he was born and raised, and returned after graduating from the University of Colorado School of Law. He has handled cases ranging from unfair trade practices class action suits to disputes regarding the discovery and disclosure of building defects.

Wells Fargo has named Jeff Tickle and Todd Thompson as commercial real estate industry specialists focused on meeting the specialized financial needs of Alaska developers and contractors. Thompson has 12 years of experience with Wells Fargo, serving commercial real estate customers in Utah. He joined the company as an intern for Wells Fargo’s Regional Commercial Banking Office in Salt Lake City. He holds a master’s degree in business administration from Brigham Young University and bachelor’s degree in accounting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Tickle has been with Wells Fargo in Alaska for seven years, serving customers as a personal banker, home mortgage consultant, and private mortgage banker. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage, where he was a member of UAA’s finance club.

Northrim Bank has hired of three new loan officers: Jason Criqui, vice president, commercial loan officer; Annette DeLong, vice president, residential construction loan unit manager; and Trevor Bradford, assistant vice president, consumer and small business loan manager. Criqui brings more than 15 years experience in banking throughout Alaska and Kansas to Northrim Bank. He started his Alaska banking career at National Bank of Alaska and Wells Fargo in Southeast Alaska and joins Northrim from First National Bank Alaska. Criqui holds a bachelor’s degree from Emporia State University in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in biology and business. A long time Alaskan, DeLong has more than 35 years banking experience. DeLong is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. Bradford joins Northrim Bank with more than 11 years of banking experience. He has an extensive background of community and relationship banking from Alabama. Bradford holds a bachelor’s of business degree from Faulkner University.

Col. Matthew McFarlane relinquished command of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division to Col. Scott A. Green in a change of command ceremony Nov. 26. McFarlane has served as the commanding officer since December 2012. He will be moving on to serve as Executive Officer to the Commanding General of U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C. McFarlane led the brigade during a period of high operational tempo, with paratroopers from the brigade’s six battalions deploying on more than 100 missions to more than 20 countries. Green comes to the Spartan Brigade after recently graduating with a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Penn. Green served as commander of the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, from August 2010 to February 2013 and deployed the battalion to the Kunar and Nuristan Provinces of Afghanistan in 2012. Some other assignments and positions Green has held include the Battalion Operations Officer and Battalion Executive Officer for the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment (Stryker) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. He also served as an Observer/Trainer and Chief of the Movement and Maneuver War-fighting Function for Operations Group Alpha for the Battle Command Training Program at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Coffman Engineers promoted Skip Bourgeois to vice president of marketing. Bourgeois has a total of nine years of marketing experience within the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. He started with Coffman Engineers in 2008 as the marketing coordinator of their Anchorage office. In 2010, he was promoted to the Anchorage office marketing manager and in 2012 he was promoted to corporate marketing manager, reflecting a new position of corporate marketing oversight within the company. He currently serves as a committee member on the Society for Marketing Professional Services 2015 Striving for Excellence Awards as well as a programs committee member for the SMPS 2015 Pacific Regional Conference. In 2011, he served as founding president of SMPS Alaska Chapter and has since served in several other board positions.

Meg Nordale of GHEMM Co. in Fairbanks has been elected president of the Associated General Contractors of Alaska for 2015 at the association’s annual meeting in mid-November. Nordale will serve for the next calendar year along with the executive board composed of Dana Pruhs, Pruhs Corporation, Anchorage, vice president; Dan Hall, Knik Construction, Anchorage, secretary; Jim St.George, STG, Inc., Anchorage, treasurer; Mike Swalling, Swalling Construction, Anchorage, contractor at-large; Teri Gunter, SENCO, Anchorage, associate member; and Kevin Welker, Kiewit Building Group, Omaha, Neb., immediate past president.

SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital hired general surgeon Dr. Patricia McPherson. She began work at the consortium on Dec. 1, and will be filling a position that has been vacant for quite some time. McPherson earned her medical degree at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, and comes to SEARHC from her position as a surgeon at Claremore Indian Hospital in Claremore, Okla. She did her internship and residency at East Tennessee State University, which functions within three healthcare systems at four hospitals, (two tertiary referral/Level I trauma centers, a 114-bed Veterans Affairs Hospital, and a 348-bed community hospital). Dr. McPherson is new to Southeast Alaska, but she is not new to the state; she received her two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Alaska Anchorage, where she graduated with honors.

Updated: 
12/03/2014 - 1:25pm

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