Current research projects include studies on water circulation in the Gulf of Alaska, environmental studies at the oil pipeline terminus of Valdez and related to the Exxon Valdez oil spill, seagrass ecology, ecological studies of the northern Bering Sea and Southern Chukchi Sea, marine mammals, shellfish and finfish biology, ecological systems associated with the marginal ice zone, the geochemistry of lakes, upwellings of seawaters, carbon and nutrient cycles, recent and Pleistocene sedimentation and the origin of the continental shelf of Alaska.
Research facilities include modern advanced laboratories on the Fairbanks campus and at Seward and the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, a marine biology field station on Kachemak Bay. The Seward Marine Center includes a high-quality running seawater system, as well as biological and chemical laboratories. Ship operations are also based at the Seward Marine Center. The center is also home port for the
R/V Alpha Helix, a 135-foot ice-strengthened research vessel operated by IMS for the National Science Foundation. The Alpha Helix routinely operates in the Chukchi and Bering seas, in Aleutian waters and in the Pacific waters adjacent to Alaska.