UGA Skidaway Institute of Oceanography Executive Director Jim Sanders will step down from his post effective July 1 and will remain on the faculty as a full professor. Skidaway Institute Professor Clark Alexander has been appointed interim executive director until a permanent executive director is named.
Before joining Skidaway Institute in 2001, Sanders already had an extensive career as a research scientist and administrator. He received his bachelor’s degree in zoology from Duke University and his doctorate in marine sciences from the University of North Carolina. Prior to his arrival in Savannah, Sanders was on the faculty and served as director of the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Estuarine Research Center in Maryland, and then was chairman of the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Old Dominion University in Virginia.
Sanders led the development of plans that secured funding to improve existing research and campus infrastructure, including new housing, research instrumentation, a new electrical grid, new marine docking facilities, a new research laboratory, and still to come in the next year, renovation of the Roebling’s cattle show barn.
Skidaway Institute was an autonomous unit of the University System of Georgia when Sanders was first appointed. In 2012-13, he worked with University of Georgia administration to develop plans for the merger of Skidaway Institute within UGA, and then with the Board of Regents to implement those plans. Sanders has served as UGA Skidaway Institute’s executive director since the 2013 merger, helping to smooth the transition.
Sanders has represented Skidaway Institute to the national and international science community, serving as president of the National Association of Marine Laboratories; as a board member and treasurer of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership; and as a member of the Science Advisory Board for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Alexander is a marine geologist who joined the Skidaway Institute as a post-doctoral scientist in 1989 and rose to the rank of full professor in 2003. He earned bachelor’s degrees in oceanography and geology from Humboldt State University in California. He went on to earn his master’s and doctoral degrees in marine geology from North Carolina State University.
As a researcher, Alexander has participated in 63 field programs from New Zealand to Siberia and has been the chief scientist on 29 oceanographic cruises with a total of more than two years at sea. He has published 82 papers in scientific journals, and, in the past decade, has received more than $5 million in direct research funding. In addition, he is the director of the Georgia Southern University Applied Coastal Research Laboratory on Skidaway Island.
Alexander has been very active on state and regional advisory boards and works closely with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to identify and address pressing coastal management needs. He served on the Georgia Coastal Marshlands Protection Committee and the Georgia Shore Protection Committee from 1998 to 2006. A few of the committees he currently serves on include the Technical Advisory Committee to the Chatham County Resource Protection Committee, the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve Advisory Committee and the Habitat Protection and Ecosystem-Based Management Advisory Panel to the South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council.
Alexander and his wife, Debbie, have been married for 30 years and have two grown daughters.