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Connecting Alaska's press to UA News

May 24, 2022

Research, workforce development and economic growth news stories and other feature articles from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Southeast and the UA Foundation. Compiled by the University of Alaska System Office of Public Affairs.


University of Alaska Fairbanks
UAF makes Alaska’s first large drone flight from international airport

An unmanned aircraft owned and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks flew from the general aviation area of Fairbanks International Airport on Sunday, a historic feat in the effort to safely incorporate such aircraft into controlled airspace.

The flight was the first civilian large drone operation from an international airport in Alaska.

Contact Rod Boyce for more information. 

Sentry after flight

(Photo by JR Ancheta/UAF Geophysical Institute)

University, partners deploy carbon dioxide-sensing underwater glider

Alaska has a new tool for tracking ocean acidification — a 7-foot-long, bright pink Seaglider. The University of Alaska Fairbanks and its commercial partners are the first U.S. team to measure carbon dioxide, the driving factor in ocean acidification, with an unoccupied underwater vehicle.

“In order to understand how the human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changes the oceans, we also need to know how ocean chemistry varies naturally throughout the year,” explained Claudine Hauri, an oceanographer at the UAF International Arctic Research Center.

Contact Heather McFarland for more information. 


UAF hosts international remote sensing symposium

More than 100 scientists and policymakers from around the circumpolar North gathered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks last week for the 16th International Circumpolar Remote Sensing Symposium.
Participants from 12 countries spent the week discussing remote sensing and its applications in polar research. Topics included new technology, Arctic ground cover, coastal communities and change, climate change, permafrost, sea ice and a variety of other topics. Contact Marmian Grimes for more information. 


University of Alaska Anchorage
Puppy loves and dental gloves: Positive effects of therapy dogs in dentistry

The star of this spring’s dental hygiene research presentations was a service dog named Luci, who played an important part of UAA students Shayna McGinty, Amber Carroll, and Tetiana Sazhnieva research into dental therapy dogs.

During the presentation, the team of dental hygiene students discussed the benefits of dental therapy dogs, the specialized training therapy dogs receive, and what it might be like to have one in the office.

But it was Luci who stole the show. 

“When our group decided to present this topic as a research presentation, I asked if it would be okay to bring Luci [to join us],” said McGinty. “We got permission and she was a star!”

McGinty began researching the topic to determine if there were measurable benefits to having a dental therapy dog in a dental office and decided to start training one of her puppies, Luci, as a dental therapy dog with Alaska Dog Works. 

Contact Jordana Newman for more information. 

UAA students and therapy dog during research presentation.

(UAA dental hygiene students Amber Carroll, Shayna McGinty and Tetiana Sazhnieva, along with therapy dog Luci, present "Puppy Loves and Dental Gloves.")

Health Sciences faculty member receives NIH grant to develop hope-based health curriculum

Alaska has the fastest-growing older adult population of any state in the country, and their health and well-being are at risk. One UAA research team is on the mission to improve the quality of life of older adults. Through an innovative hope-based education program focused on fostering positive behaviors that fight obesity at its most common root: sedentary behaviors coupled with imbalanced diets.

Assistant professor of health sciences Britteny M. Howell received an R15 research grant from the National Institute on Aging for her project, “A Health Education Program to Increase Hope and Improve Energy Balance Among Seniors in the Urban Subarctic.” Contact Victoria Nechodomu for more information.


Nursing alumni take on Alaska's health care needs

Since the pandemic began in early 2020, UAA’s School of Nursing (SON) has graduated more than 500 new nurses into Alaska’s health care system. While Alaska was experiencing nursing shortages before COVID-19 hit, the pandemic illuminated the critical role nursing professionals play in our communities and the importance of having a local, accessible nursing education program in the state.

Like all programs across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, SON pivoted, providing nursing students with online education and virtual simulations to practice the more hands-on aspects of their programs until they could safely bring students back to campus for smaller in-person classes. Contact Catalina Myers for more information. 


University of Alaska Southeast 
UAS Outdoor Studies Expedition: Sea Kayaking in Glacier Bay

Nine students and two faculty in the Outdoor Studies program at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) paddled from Bartlett Cove to Muir Point and back in Glacier Bay’s East Arm over nine days, May 2-11.

The 80-mile paddle was a final requirement for students earning a Certificate in Outdoor Skills and Leadership and the first of two expeditions required for students in the Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Outdoor & Adventure Studies or the Program on the Environment Bachelor of Arts in Environmental and Outdoor Studies.

Contact Keni Campbell for more information.  

Students on the beach at Sandy Cove

Conference Committee approves critical investments for University of Alaska system in the FY23 budget

The Alaska Legislature passed its FY23 budget last week and the outlook is positive for the University of Alaska system. 

The operating budget brings a sense of fiscal stability for the University of Alaska system: 

  • $9.9 million for compensation and fixed cost increases (includes a 2% salary increase for non-bargaining staff, firefighters, and local 6070) 
  • $3.5 million for health program faculty to meet workforce demand
  • $2 million for alternative energy
  • $1 million for health clinicals
  • $1 million for teacher education
  • $635,900 for continued Alaska Library Network and Imagination Library support
  • $200,000 for Alaska Area Health Education Centers
  • $100,000 increase to mental health trust funding 
  • $72,300 for technical vocational education program funds (+$881,800  FY22 supplemental)
  • And increased authorization to receive federal funding for research

In addition to the operating budget approval, the Legislature passed a series of one-time funding approvals for research and development critical for Alaska’s economic recovery including: 

  • $10 million for drone programs to secure beyond line of sight and industry development
  • $7.8 million for important critical mineral and rare earth research and development
  • And $7 million to support mariculture research, industry support and workforce development

Learn more about the important work already taking place across the University of Alaska system in these key areas: 

Alaska Legislature passes bill to protect scholarship fund from annual reverse sweep

The Alaska Legislature voted at the end of its session to exempt the state's Higher Education Investment Fund from the annual sweep of any unused general funds at the end of each fiscal year. 

If signed by Gov. Dunleavy, House Bill 322 would keep the HEIF from being drained at the end of each year and keep the fund from having to compete with other line items for state dollars each year. 

The Legislature's approved budget also includes $359 million to recapitalize the fund and $1.6 million to expand the WWAMI Medical Education Program.

This fund provides reliable funding for University of Alaska student grants, the Alaska Performance Scholarship and the WAAMI program which allows UA students to participate in medical programs outside the state. 

UAF student receives 2022 Angus Gavin Memorial Migratory Bird Research Grant

Annie Maliguine, a master’s student in marine biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is the recipient of the 2022 Angus Gavin Memorial Migratory Bird Research Grant

Her proposal, titled “Steller’s Eider Foraging Habitat in Izembek Lagoon, AK,” is focused on understanding how forage habitat conditions for Steller's eiders may have changed in the last two decades at Izembek Lagoon.

The Gavin Grant is awarded annually to support research on bird species found either permanently or seasonally in Alaska or its coastal waters, including their biology, general ecology, and habitat relationships. Contact Dory Straight for more information. 

For more information on the UA Newswire, contact UA Manager of News & Content Erin McGroarty at elmcgroarty@alaska.edu