The Friends of Long Marine Lab will present a Global Oceans Award to California Secretary of State Bruce McPherson at the group's annual Gourmet Dinner benefit event on Sunday, March 12. The award recognizes McPherson for his leadership in the Friends of Long Marine Lab and his commitment to the local coastal environment.

Awards will also be presented to two promising marine sciences students at UC Santa Cruz. The Global Oceans Awards were established in 2004 to recognize outstanding individuals who are making a difference for the world's oceans. The annual dinner, held this year at the Bittersweet Bistro in Rio del Mar, is one of the most popular fundraising events for the Friends of Long Marine Lab.

McPherson became secretary of state in 2005 after 11 years in the state legislature. A fourth-generation Santa Cruz native, he served three years in the assembly representing Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties, followed by eight years in the state senate. While in the legislature, McPherson earned a reputation as a moderate and nonpartisan officeholder--a fiscal conservative who fought to protect California's environment and scenic coastlines.

Prior to his election to the assembly, McPherson served as the founding president of the Friends of Long Marine Lab, a community support group dedicated to supporting and promoting the public outreach activities of the Joseph M. Long Marine Laboratory at UCSC. As an assemblyman, McPherson advocated and played a key role in obtaining state funding for construction of UCSC's Earth and Marine Sciences Building, home to the Institute of Marine Sciences. As a state senator, he helped secure funding for the Interdisciplinary Sciences Building, which houses Environmental Studies and other programs. Throughout his tenure in California politics, McPherson has helped to protect coastal open space and promote public access. He also helped to fund the "mussel watch" program, which tests for toxins in shellfish, and cast the deciding vote to ban offshore oil drilling in state waters.

Graduate students Leslie Roland and Dana Wingfield will also receive awards at the dinner. They had the top-ranked proposals among 16 students who received research support from the Friends of Long Marine Lab Student Research Awards this year. These awards provided more than $11,000 in total funding for undergraduate and graduate student research projects in the marine sciences.

Roland, who works with UCSC assistant professor of ocean sciences Matthew McCarthy, is identifying the composition of particles suspended in the water below the ocean surface and sinking into the "twilight zone." Wingfield, who works with UCSC professor of Earth sciences Gary Griggs, is elucidating habitat use of foraging juvenile loggerhead turtles in Baja California Sur, Mexico.

For more information about the Global Oceans Gourmet Dinner and Awards Gala, contact Lisa M. Rose at (831) 459-3694.