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Dean Receives Award for Support of Marine Ecosystem Health

April 1, 2011

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March 31, 2011

Thursday March 31, 2011, in Davis, California, Dean Bennie Osburn received the SeaDoc Society’s coveted "Octopus Award." This award recognizes groups or individuals who go above and beyond to help the SeaDoc Society accomplish its mission to ensure the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystems.

Osburn, dean of the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine for the last 14 years, was instrumental in establishing the SeaDoc Society almost a decade ago. In 2000, private donors impressed with the veterinary school’s track record for producing science that improved wildlife health approached the veterinary school and asked them to consider working in Washington state and British Columbia on problems facing the marine fish and wildlife of the Salish Sea. The school, consistently ranked as one of the top of the nation’s veterinary schools, had established a center of excellence called the Wildlife Health Center that produces science to ensure healthy wildlife populations and ecosystems. Dean Osburn recognized the fit between Wildlife Health Center’s expertise and the needs of the Salish Sea and helped create the SeaDoc Society.

The Dean’s support and guidance over the last decade have been instrumental in helping the SeaDoc Society fund and conduct millions of dollars of science needed to improve the health of marine wildlife populations. Examples of important scientific studies conducted by SeaDoc include determining best practices for restoring endangered northern abalone, identifying the top ecological principles for designing healthy ecosystems and characterizing disease threats to endangered killer whales.

Kirsten Gilardi, wildlife veterinarian and assistant director of the Wildlife Health Center said, “Dean Osburn has truly been like four extra pairs of arms for the SeaDoc Society since our inception.”

The Octopus Award recognizes an individual outside of the SeaDoc program who has made significant contributions to its success. Past recipients include Malcolm Goodfellow (2004), Patti Moran-Hodge (2005), John Klacking (2007), Lynne Greene (2008), and Compass Wines (2010).

The SeaDoc Society works to ensure the health of marine wildlife and their ecosystems through science and education. A program of the Wildlife Health Center at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the SeaDoc Society has a regional focus on improving the health of the Salish Sea. For more information see

The UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, celebrating World Veterinary Year, the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the first veterinary school in Lyon, France, serves California with teaching, research and service programs benefiting animal health, public health and environmental health. On the Web,

Contact: Kirsten Gilardi, SeaDoc director, 530-753-4896, or Joe Gaydos, regional director, 360-914-1083