Alexander Frie Joins Minnesota Sea Grant

Oct 19, 2021

DULUTH, Minn. — The University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program welcomes Alexander Frie as the new research and fellowship coordinator effective November 8, 2021. MNSG and Sea Grant programs nationwide invest a large part of their federal and university funding in research and education competitions that are directly managed by a research coordinator.

“We are excited to welcome Alex and introduce him to our partners, collaborators, and the national Sea Grant network,” said MNSG Director John A. Downing. “In this reenvisioned position, Alex will be helping our program fully realize our research-to-application vision of translating the water science needs of our community stakeholders into deliverable water science, research funding opportunities, and student fellowships.”

Frie comes to MNSG from the University of Minnesota Department of Soil, Water, and Climate where he was a postdoctoral associate investigating the fate and transport of reactive atmospheric nitrogen, which are forms of nitrogen that contribute to negative environmental impacts. Previously, he was at the Lake Superior Research Institute where he performed chemical analyses in support of ballast water management system testing for ships.

“Having a highly skilled chemist in-house is fantastic,” Downing said. “Alex’s broad background in environmental and atmospheric chemistry and biogeochemistry will bring scientific perspectives new to Minnesota Sea Grant.”

This new MNSG position has three main components. Frie will help develop and prioritize MNSG’s research theme areas and coordinate the program’s request-for-proposal research funding process. Frie will also manage MNSG’s undergraduate and graduate fellowship programs, including the prestigious National Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship. Additionally, Frie will develop an individual research program that supports MNSG’s vision and goals.

“One of my goals is for Minnesota Sea Grant research to be more applicable for our stakeholders,” said Alexander Frie. “This position is an opportunity to impact who and what Minnesota Sea Grant funds and to develop partnerships that expand the reach of our program through, for example, additional fellowship opportunities.”

Frie’s experience in both research and community outreach will be especially welcomed in his role as a liaison to MNSG’s stakeholders, Minnesota’s research community, and MNSG’s extension educators. Among Frie’s first-year goals are the assessment of barriers to diversity and equity in MNSG’s research and fellowship competitions and the establishment of uniform data management procedures and requirements.

“Sea Grant extension educators are in constant conversation with our stakeholders,” said Frie. “I want to ensure what our stakeholders are telling our educators is reflected in our funded research. And when funded proposals produce useful results, I want to ensure that information is available to our extension educators to deliver back to those stakeholders.”

MNSG’s first and part-time research coordinator, Valerie Brady, is stepping down after 15 years; her last day will be November 1, 2021. She plans to continue her work at the University of Minnesota Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute.

“The foundation of the Minnesota Sea Grant program is to discover the water science needs of Minnesotans and supply that science to them in a way they can use it to better lives and waters,” said Downing. “If the science exists, we translate and package it for our stakeholders. If the science doesn't exist, we get it built for them via the Minnesota water-research community. Alex will play a key role in both avenues of supplying water science to Minnesotans.”

Minnesota Sea Grant is a systemwide program of the University of Minnesota and is one of 34 nationwide federal-university partnerships whose mission is to enhance the practical use and conservation of Great Lakes, coastal, and marine resources in order to create a sustainable economy and environment. MNSG is part of the National Sea Grant College Program, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

MNSG staff continue to operate as a hybrid workplace in our Twin Cities and Duluth campus offices and from home; all staff are available via email.

Additional information: National Sea Grant resources for research coordinators.


Alexander Frie, research and fellowship coordinator, Minnesota Sea Grant, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth,

John Downing, director, Minnesota Sea Grant, University of Minnesota; professor of biology, Department of Biology and scientist, Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota Duluth,, 218-726-8715.

Marie Thoms, communications manager, Minnesota Sea Grant, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth,, office: 218-726-8710, mobile: 907-460-1841, @MNSeaGrant.

Image credit: Alexander Frie


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