Erika McPhee-Shaw, director of Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC) in Anacortes, has resigned from being SPMC director and will transition to serving as a faculty member in Western’s Huxley College of the Environment.
“I value very much Dr. McPhee-Shaw’s leadership at the SPMC, and I look forward to the contributions she’ll make to Western as a faculty member,” said Brent Carbajal, Western’s provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
Carbajal has appointed Kathy Kitto, vice provost for research and dean of Western’s Graduate School, to oversee the SPMC transition as planning begins for future leadership of the center.
“I so appreciate the dedication shown by Dr. Erika McPhee-Shaw to the Shannon Point Marine Center during her time as director and look forward to her many new contributions to Western,” Kitto said. “I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to assist Shannon Point Marine Center during this transition. Western has given me many opportunities to serve for which I am extremely grateful. I look forward to working with the fabulous team at SPMC.”
McPhee-Shaw, who has been SPMC director since 2014, succeeded SPMC Director Steve Sulkin, who retired.
"It has been an honor to serve as director of Shannon Point Marine Center and I am grateful to all the wonderful SPMC employees who are so dedicated to students and science. Thank you to Kathy Kitto for helping to lead during this transition. Although there are still many challenges and opportunities at SPMC, I am ready to apply my skills and enthusiasm in other capacities within the university,” McPhee-Shaw said. “Western is committed to provide students an excellent liberal arts education with room for science, including environmental and marine sciences. I am excited to be part of that as a professor, and will continue to be intensely involved in furthering WWU’s missions related to climate and ocean science; internationally, regionally, and at the state level. I remain committed to WWU’s goals of increasing student access and promoting student diversity,” McPhee-Shaw said.
As SPMC director, McPhee-Shaw successfully worked to increase visibility and awareness of the marine center for students on the Bellingham campus, as well as within local communities and with business leaders to better promote long-term relationships between those groups and WWU. An example of new initiatives includes work with the Anacortes and Sedro-Wooley school districts, in coordination WWU Extended Education, to develop Expanded Learning programs during school breaks and early release school days in local communities.
Prior to her service at SPMC, McPhee-Shaw was a professor at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, San Jose State University, where she had worked since 2004. Moss Landing Marine Laboratories is the graduate program in marine science for California State Universities East Bay, Fresno, Monterey Bay, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Stanislaus.
McPhee-Shaw has a bachelor’s degree in Physics from Dartmouth College and a doctorate in Oceanography from the University of Washington. She was a National Research Council Fellow at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California Santa Barbara. She is a Leopold Leadership Fellow, was 2017 vice-chair, and 2019 chair-elect of the International Gordon Conference on Coastal Ocean Dynamics, and has served on the nationwide board for the NOAA U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing Systems.
Her research focuses on internal waves, continental shelf and slope dynamics, and sediment, nutrient, and oxygen transport; and she has been chief scientist on various seagoing projects. She has written extensively for academic publications, has been the lead principle investigator on National Science Foundation and NOAA grants and has done considerable outreach, including as the oceanographer on a Discovery Channel science special with host Philippe Cousteau in Inverness, Scotland in 2008.
The Shannon Point Marine Center’s mission is educating leaders in science, education, policy, and stewardship through experiential learning integrated with innovative marine and environmental scientific research.