field courses

The University of Washington and Alaska Salmon Program teach two field courses at our research station on Lake Aleknagik. In even years, we host an undergraduate course, FSH 491 – Aquatic Ecological Research in Alaska (5 credits). In odd years, we host a graduate level course in collaboration with the University of Alaska, FSH 497 – Management of Pacific Salmon.

Aquatic Ecological Research in Alaska (AERA) – FISH 491 (5 credits)

Offered Summer quarter in even years, typically ~July 15-Aug 15.

2024 Course Info Session

Date: Wednesday January 31, 2024

Room: FSH 203

Time: 4-5pm

This course is open to upper division UW undergraduate students in the natural sciences who demonstrate an interest in aquatic ecology.  Students will live and work at the Alaska Salmon Program field stations in Bristol Bay, AK for 4 weeks and earn 5 credits.  The course is co-taught by Tom Quinn, Daniel Schindler, and Ray Hilborn, with shorter sections taught by additional UW faculty (Gordon Holtgrieve) and NOAA scientists (George Pess and Wesley Larson).

The AERA class is an intensive, full-time research training experience where a team of students works on focused research problems guided by a group of faculty, staff, postdoctoral, and graduate student mentors. Course topics include freshwater ecosystem ecology, climate change, ecology of salmonids, limnology, aquatic food webs, population dynamics, molecular ecology, and geomorphology. Workload expectations vary from year to year, but typically students are expected to produce 1 short paper in addition to daily lectures, short assignments, and field research.  Students may also choose specific research questions for their own exploration if time allows – many SAFS students use this opportunity to begin Capstone project research.  

2024 AERA course application due February 16, 2024.

Your application packet should include a 1 page statement of interest, your unofficial transcripts, and a resume/curriculum vitae. We anticipate a highly competitive pool of applicants. Interviews will be conducted between February 26-March 8. Offers will be made by March 15. Class enrollment will be capped at 6 students.

If selected for the course, students are expected to purchase their own plane ticket to Dillingham, AK and supply their own chest waders and stream boots. Room, board, and other course materials will be provided. Check with your undergrad advisor if there are scholarship opportunities to offset travel costs.

Send complete application packets and any questions to Chris Boatright ( and Jackie Carter (

Management of Pacific Salmon

Offered Summer quarter in odd years, typically ~June 15-July 10.

This course is appropriate for upper division undergraduates with strong quantitative and analytical skills, as well as graduate students interested in the management of pacific salmon fisheries. Students will live and work at the Alaska Salmon Program field station on Lake Aleknagik, AK.  The course is co-taught by Ray Hilborn  (UW) and Milo Adkison (Univ. of Alaska) and is open to both UW and UA students.

Students taking the fast paced and intensive Management of Pacific Salmon course will essentially “mock manage” the Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery in real time.  Using the same data managers receive on a daily basis (test fishery counts and genetic stock allocation, daily catch and escapement by river and fishery district), students will run models, perform analyses, and make mock decisions about when to open and close the fishery.  Additionally, guest lecturers, including local management biologists, members of the salmon the processing industry, commercial and subsistence fishermen, will provide a broader context of the importance of salmon to the Bristol Bay region of Alaska.

Contact Ray Hilborn for more information (