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Noted biologist to speak at UAF commencement

Submitted by Marmian Grimes
Phone: (907) 474-7902

04/05/06

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Joanna Burger

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Charles Gray

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Sir Nicholas John Shackleton

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Rutgers University Distinguished Professor and noted biologist Joanna Burger will give the keynote address at this year's University of Alaska Fairbanks commencement ceremony Sunday, May 14 at the Carlson Center.

Burger began conducting research in Alaska more than two decades ago, focusing on the social behavior and nesting of colonial birds, such as gulls. For the past six years, she has worked with the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation to study the safety of ocean subsistence foods from the area near Amchitka and Kiska Islands, the site of three underground nuclear tests in the late 60s and early 70s. The consortium is a group of universities that includes UAF and Rutgers.

Burger holds a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Albany, a master's degree from Cornell University and a doctorate from the University of Minnesota.

Burger is one of two people who will receive honorary doctoral degrees during UAF's 84th commencement ceremony. The second honorary degree will go to the late Sir Nicholas John Shackleton, an internationally known earth scientist. During the ceremony, UAF will also honor Fairbanks Daily News-Miner publisher emeritus Charles Gray with a meritorious service award.

Shackleton, prior to his death in January, was an emeritus professor at the University of Cambridge and, until 2004, was the director of the Godwin Institute for Quaternary Research in Cambridge, United Kingdom. His studies of ocean sediment cores led to an increased understanding of Earth's climate during the Quaternary period and have a significant bearing on modeling and predicting future global climate change. During his 40-year research career, Shackleton earned many of his discipline's highest awards, including the 2005 Blue Planet Prize, was knighted for his contributions to his field and became a household name among his fellow scientists.

He earned his bachelor's, master's and two doctoral degrees from the University of Cambridge, including a Sc.D., regarded as the highest degree a scientist can earn, in 1984. Shackleton's sister is slated to accept his degree during the ceremony.

Gray will be one of only eight people in UAF's history to receive the meritorious service award. His career at the News-Miner spanned nearly a half -century and took him from a dollar-an-hour, part-time job in high school to publisher, a position he held for four years prior to his retirement in 1992. In addition to his accomplishments as the leader of the paper, Gray is perhaps most noted for his expertise in newspaper production. He is credited with helping to perfect color reproduction in newspapers, a skill that earned the paper a national reputation for printing excellence, and was a highly sought-after national expert in the field.

Honorary degree recipients are chosen both for their lasting contributions to the state and nation and for significant achievements in their respective disciplines. Meritorious service awards recognize a recipient's outstanding service to the local community.

CONTACT: UAF Public Information Officer Marmian Grimes at (907) 474-7902 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@uaf.edu

ON THE WEB: http://www.uaf.edu/commencement/2006/index.html

High-resolution photos are available for download at http://www.uaf.edu/news .

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