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May 9, 2023

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

University of Alaska Anchorage

Earn on the way at UAA: Opening doors for secondary students

With the expansion of middle college programs and other dual enrollment opportunities, some students are able to complete the course requirements for a certificate or associate degree before graduating high school. Although secondary students have always been able to apply coursework completed in high school toward credentials in the future, they were required to wait until they were formally admitted to UAA. To respond to a growing desire to recognize students’ accomplishments at the time of completion, UAA revisited processes and sought ways to meet this need.

In 2018, UAA created an Earn on the Way program enabling students pursuing a baccalaureate degree to submit an application to earn an occupational endorsement certificate, undergraduate certificate or associate degree while working toward their end goal. Previously, without admission to a degree program, students could not apply to receive the credential even if they had completed the necessary coursework.

Contact: Austin Osborne 

Students study in the spine at UAA

Computer Science majors Tristan Lee (left), Joseph Dela Rosa Jr. (center) and Victor Ang (right) hang out in the UAA spine after class. (Photo by James Evans / University of Alaska Anchorage)

UAA announces new Bachelor of Arts in communication

UAA now offers a Bachelor of Arts in communication, among the most in-demand degree programs for  employers and students. Developed with existing courses and faculty from the Department of Communication in UAA’s Community and Technical College, the new degree program prepares students for professional and personal success with a diverse skill set in communications and beyond. The department offers a wide variety of upper-division courses, empowering students to explore the subjects that are most interesting and relevant to them.

Contact: Michelle Saport

UAA announces 2023 ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering Endowment Award recipients

Through the ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering Endowment Awards, the university awarded support to five exploratory research projects for 2023 totaling more than $500,000.

Selected projects must promote and grow the fields of Arctic science and engineering, demonstrate a likelihood of major scientific or engineering impact and strongly connect to community and industry. Programs, research and activities inclusive of Alaska students, communities, projects and opportunities are given priority. 

Including projects awarded in 2022, there have been 47 projects totaling $3,661,802 funded by the ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering endowment. 

Contact: Austin Osborne

University of Alaska Fairbanks

When is green-up? It's going to be late this year, and so is the birch sap run

Cold weather this April is delaying two cherished milestones in Interior Alaska: the start of the birch sap run and green-up.

Below-normal temperatures are likely to continue for a week or more, according to Rick Thoman, a climate specialist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

“We’ve got green-up pushed back to quite late,” he said in mid-April. “We’re now looking at the 50% likelihood for green-up is now May 11-15, and the long-term average is May 8.”

That also means the birch sap isn’t likely to start running until late in April, Thoman said. 

Thoman added that this April’s temperatures are “historic-level cold.”

Contact: Julie Stricker

Chart of spring temperatures over the years

A chart on the wall at the OneTree Alaska classroom shows the temperature progression for each season between March 1 and May 31. (Courtesy UAF Cooperative Extension Service)

Virtual workshops feature native Alaska plants and ecology

May is Native Plant Month, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service's Anchorage Outreach Office is offering four virtual workshops, available statewide.

May 10, 1-2 p.m. — Invasive Chokecherry Trees in Alaska

May 17, noon to 1 p.m. — Landscaping with Native Plants

May 18, noon to 1 p.m. — Backyard Insect Ecology

May 24, noon to 1 p.m. — Landscaping for the Birds

Please register in advance for each class.

Contact: Gina Dionne

Alaskans: Submit ice photos to help predict flooding

Fresh Eyes on Ice, a University of Alaska Fairbanks citizen science project, is urging Alaskans to send in photos to help predict flooding in the state. Due to the cold spring, Alaska is at a higher risk of flooding this year, and Fresh Eyes on Ice is calling on members of the public to help keep their communities safe.

The project collects and shares ice photos from citizens to help make critical river ice break-up forecasts for Alaska communities and to understand long-term changes in ice. To participate, Alaskans can submit pictures of river and lake ice to the project website with location information and a brief description of conditions.

Contact: Katie Spellman

University of Alaska Southeast

UAS Biologist Beth Mathews debuts new book Deep Waters, events planned for May 2023

Retired biologist and UAS professor Beth Ann Mathews has published Deep Waters: A Memoir of Loss, Alaska Adventure, and Love Rekindled. Mathews will be visiting Southeast Alaska this week for the following events in Juneau and Gustavus:

Thursday, May 11, 6:00 P.M.: Alaska Book Launch - Juneau’s Hearthside Books, downtown location

Tuesday, May 16, 6:00 P.M.: Author Event, Reading and Book Signing - Gustavus Public Library & Hearthside Books 

Deep Waters is about Beth’s adventurous life as a marine biology professor and mother in Alaska, which was upended when her healthy husband was slammed with a rare type of stroke. 

For specifics on all events, and to request a virtual event, visit Elizabeth's website.

Contact: Keni Campbell

Cover of book "Deep Waters"


UAS to Honor Anna Ehlers with Honorary Doctorate

This year UAS will honor Anna Ehlers with an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. Ehlers has made significant contributions toward the landscape of traditional arts and culture of Southeast Alaska and far beyond. She is rooted in the traditional Tlingit art of Chilkat weaving mastery that goes far deeper than the highly technical weft and weave of mountain goat hair and cedar into exquisite clan regalia.

Honorary degrees are bestowed on individuals who exemplify a significant and lasting contribution to the University, to the State of Alaska, or to the individual’s discipline or profession.

Contact: Keni Campbell

UAS Faculty Forest Haven Successfully Defends Dissertation on Subsistence and Settler Colonialism in Alaska

University of Alaska Southeast Social Science faculty Forest Haven was awarded her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California Irvine.

Dr. Haven’s dissertation, “Alaska Native People, Traditional Foods, and the Settler State: ‘Subsistence’ and the Narrative of Settler Belonging” takes an in-depth look at the history of the subsistence in Alaska, tracing the legal, political, and social construction of this unique user group category.

Dr. Haven is a Term Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Alaska Native Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast, currently teaching courses “Introduction to Alaska Native Studies” and “Indigenous Social Movements.” 

Contact: Keni Campbell

UA System Office

University of Alaska, Gov. Mike Dunleavy Announce Inaugural Global Autonomous Systems Conference

The University of Alaska and Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced that the University and State of Alaska will host the inaugural Global Autonomous Systems Conference (GASC) in Anchorage on Aug. 9-11, 2023. GASC is a three-day gathering that will include presentations from worldwide experts, conversations among policy and industry leaders, and opportunities to connect with visionaries in autonomous systems.

The Global Autonomous Systems Conference will be held Aug. 9-11, 2023 at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska. For more details or to register for the conference, visit autonomousalaska.com

A large UAV on a runwayAn unmanned aerial vehicle used to map arctic sea ice. The 300-pound Griffon Aerospace Outlaw SeaHunter, has a 16-foot wingspan. (Photo courtesy UAF ACUASI)

948 Alaska high school seniors will graduate with UA Scholars Award distinction

Members of cohort represent 238 high schools from Akiachak to Yakutat

The University of Alaska has announced that 948 high school seniors across the state will graduate as UA Scholars, and be eligible for a $12,000 scholarship. Each year, academic achievers ranked in the top ten percent of their graduating class are identified and recognized with the award; the scholarship can be used anywhere in the University of Alaska system, including UAA, UAF, UAS, and their community campuses.

The University of Alaska established the UA Scholars Award in 1999 to encourage Alaska students to attend and graduate from college in their home state. A complete list of the class of 2023 UA Scholars will be printed and inserted in Alaska newspapers on May 14, 2023. Learn more at alaska.edu/scholars.

Contact: Lael Oldmixon

UA System "Did You Know?"

Did you know that the University of Alaska offers a web-based tool called Career Coach to help individuals explore careers?

With Career Coach, Alaskans can easily browse current job postings in the state, access labor market and wage data, learn about workforce education or training opportunities available through the University of Alaska system, and find out what education or training is necessary for various careers. 

Career Coach is an invaluable resource for Alaskans looking to explore their career and educational options. Visit the Career Coach homepage today to jumpstart your journey toward a fulfilling career or advance an existing career.

Contact: Teri Cothren

Thumbnail image of Career Coach flier

Career Coach flier (Courtesy UA Workforce Programs)

For more information on the UA Newswire, contact UA Manager of Communications & Marketing Monique Musick at mmusick@alaska.edu