January 20, 2017
Historically, many rural and remote Arctic communities have relied on hunting, fishing, and gathering as the primary methods of food acquisition. Some residents have been growing food for centuries in spite of regional variations in soils and weather patterns. Yet currently, more than 95 percent of the food(s) consumed by Alaska residents are produced elsewhere. Over the course of its journey to Alaska, this food travels over a transportation network that is subject to high fuel costs and delays. Over time, its nutritional value decreases. Sometimes, the food spoils. For these reasons, food security has been identified as a major research and policy priority for the communities in the Arctic.
Circumpolar governments, including Alaska’s, have developed policies to increase agricultural production in order to provide fresh, wholesome, and nutritious food to residents. Over the last several years, researchers and policy makers have held numerous conferences on the subject of practicing sustainable agriculture in the Arctic. Yet greater attention is still needed on essential issues stemming from the fragility of the environment, the length of the growing season, the techniques of agricultural production, and the difficulties involved in energy-efficient, large-scale, cold-climate food storage.
Through a series of three contests, we invite students to address some of the issues inherent in developing environmentally responsible agricultural practices in the Arctic. As they think about their entries, students should consider strategies for protecting the environment from invasive pathogens, insects, and weeds; preventing the persistence of pesticides in Arctic soils and their carry-over in food; mitigating indigenous and immigrant pathogens using beneficial microorganisms discovered in the Arctic; extending the growing season via mechanical and biological means; domesticating native plants that possess significant medicinal or other values; and protecting biodiversity.
If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Jenifer Huang McBeath, contest co-chair, by email at jhmcbeath@ alaska.edu or by phone at 907-474-7431.
This contest is sponsored by
- The School of Natural Resources and Extension (SNRE)
- Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity (URSA)
Contest Committee Members
- Jenifer Huang McBeath, Co-Chair, Plant Pathology and Biotechnology, SNRE, UAF
- Meriam Karlsson, Co-Chair, Horticulture, SNRE, UAF
- Peter Stougaard, Co-Chair, Microbiology and Biochemistry, University of Copenhagen
- Wendy Croskrey, Art, CLA, UAF
- Elaine Drew, Anthropology, CLA, UAF
- Chuen-Sen Lin, Mechanical Engineering, CEM, UAF
- Jason McNeely, Electrical and Computer Engineering, CEM, UAF
- Debu Misra, Geological Engineering, CEM, UAF
- Sarah Stanley, English, CLA, UAF
- Maya Salganek, Film/Video, CLA, UAF
- Sveta Yamin-Pasternak, Anthropology, CLA, UAF
- Obadare Awoleke, Petroleum Engineering, CEM, UAF