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Connecting Alaska's press to UA news

November 7, 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

New Cooperation Between University of Alaska Anchorage and Nord University

At the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Nord University and the University of Alaska Anchorage signed an agreement to strengthen the cooperation between the two Arctic educational institutions.

The agreement recognizes the mutual benefits to be gained through cooperative programs promoting scholarly activities and international understanding.

The agreement was signed by Vice Chancellor Aaron Dotson at the University of Alaska and Director at High North Center, Nord University, Frode Mellemvik.

Contact: Trine Jonassen

UAA's Vice Chancellor Aaron Dotson and Nord University's Frode Mellemvik shake handsDirector at High North Center Nord University Frode Mellemvik and Vice Chancellor Aaron Dotson at University of Alaska Anchorage, signs the agreement in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo: Trine Jonassen)

DNR, UAA Partner on Global Navigation Satellite System

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is partnering with the UAA College of Engineering on statewide, publicly available satellite positioning services. The campus will host a cutting-edge Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) reference station at the Engineering and Industry Building.

The GNSS reference station at UAA will serve as a catalyst for advancements in geospatial technology benefiting both the academic community and the broader public. Through real-time GNSS corrections, UAA students and faculty in the geomatics program will be empowered to conduct fieldwork, fostering hands-on learning experiences and elevating the quality of research and educational outcomes.

Contact: Austin Osborne

OPINION: Vic Fischer never lost his enthusiasm for Alaska’s future

The death of Vic Fischer on Oct. 22 at age 99 closed a chapter in Alaska’s history.

Fischer is best remembered as the last surviving delegate to Alaska’s Constitutional Convention in 1955-56, but his remarkable life spanned important periods in world history, as well as for Alaska.

Another of Vic’s accomplishments was his role in the 1960s as founder of the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), the university’s venerable public policy think tank.

Over the years, ISER has been involved in research on most of Alaska’s important public policy issues and state legislators paid attention.

Contact: Austin Osborne

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Biden seeks to extract valuable minerals from seaweeds

Three projects to evaluate the feasibility of extracting rare earth elements (REEs) and platinum group metals (PGMs) from macroalgae have been awarded $5 million in funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE).

University of Alaska Fairbanks will investigate the accumulation potential of REEs in hyper-accumulating native seaweed species growing around the coast of the Bokan Mountain rare earth element deposit in Southeast Alaska.

Contact: Marmian Grimes

A UA researcher harvest kelpThe University of Fairbanks will investigate whether seaweed farms could be developed with the harvest of rare earth elements in mind. 

How Scientists Tracked the Movements of a 17,000-Year-Old Woolly Mammoth

Isotopes tell the epic tale of one ancient mammal’s odyssey across Alaska.

To be able to track an Ice Age animal’s movements in such detail is a stunning milestone in paleontology. It began with a moment of inspired curiosity in the mind of Matthew Wooller, an isotope scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Wooller worked with The University of Alaska Museum of the North, specifically the museum’s director, a paleontologist named Patrick Druckenmiller, and a team of 16 scientists from four different countries.

Contact: Marmian Grimes

Later frosts could make new crops possible in Alaska, but climate change brings challenges, too

In October, fall gives way to winter for much of Alaska. But each year, the first frost is arriving later and later. That could be a boon for Alaska farmers.

University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Glenna Gannon says the longer growing season is making some types of crops possible for the first time. 

In contrast, some of Alaska’s more cold-tolerant crops, like cabbage or broccoli, may actually fare worse as temperatures warm. And many regions in the state are also facing a higher threat of summer drought.

Contact: Marmian Grimes

The University of Alaska Southeast

‘Kuhaantí,’ a children’s book written entirely in Lingít, is the first of its kind in decades

“Kuhaantí” means “orphan” in Lingít. Itʼs now the title of a children's book written entirely in the language with no English translations — the first of its kind in decades. The book will launch on Friday at 5 p.m., with a reading at Juneau’s Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall.

University of Alaska Southeast language professor X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell collaborated with master Lingít speakers to write the book.

Contact: Keni Cambell

The cover art for the bookThe cover art for “Kuhaantí.” (Image courtesy of Goldbelt Heritage Foundation)

Envisioning a future of mariculture boom times

A collective $110 million in public investment for mariculture in Alaska is flowing into the state, a federal Build Back Better wager based on the core assets of the region, predictions about future demand — particularly for kelp — and the general need for more sustainable food sources.

The biggest portion of the $110 million in state mariculture investment, about a third of which will come to Southeast, has come from the Build Back Better regional challenge ($65 million, which is the initial $49 million and a 20% match); the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council ($32 million); and $10 million from the Alaska Legislature ($5 million for mariculture matching grant program and $5 million to the University of Alaska).

Contact: Meredith Jordan

How microplastics accumulate in the rain of Southeast Alaska

An interview with Sonia Nagorski — a professor at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.

What is a microplastic?

“A piece of plastic less than 5 millimeters in size, about the length of a grain of rice or smaller.

Where did most of the Juneau microplastics come from?

“Given that many of the microplastics in the rain seem to be coming in from elsewhere, I can only suspect that most of it is coming from the Pacific Ocean, because this is the source of most of our wind and rain.

“Other researchers have looked into the mobilization of microplastics off the upper ocean, noting that they are generally low-density, lightweight, accumulate near the surface, and can be aerosolized easily by wind or wave action.”

“It is really important that more research goes into producing sustainable substitutes for plastic and promoting less consumption, better waste management, recycling, and microbial breakdown of existing plastic.”

Contact: Ned Rozell

UA System Office

113 local students receive scholarships to UA

The University of Alaska Scholars program has given 113 local students $12,000 scholarships to attend UA system schools.

The awardees were high school seniors whose GPA’s place them in the top 10% of their class, according to a UA Scholars press release.

The students were honored at a ceremony at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on Nov. 2.

This is the 25th class of UA Scholars, according to the release. The program has awarded around $76 million in scholarships since it began and has led to over 7,600 students receiving degrees from UA.

Contact: Jonathon Taylor

UA Scholards pose at the photo booth at an award ceremony

UA Scholars has awarded more than 900 scholarships for students around Alaska this year.


State aims to boost number of Alaska students who apply for aid for college, career training

In late October, the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and the University of Alaska is hosted their first “FAFSA Summit,” a two-day conference aimed at raising the number of students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Nationally, Alaska has the lowest rate of high schoolers who apply for the federal aid program, which offers grants and scholarships for college and career training. Only 28% of Alaska’s high school seniors do the paperwork.

Contact: Jonathon Taylor

US Icebreaker Healy On Succesful Research Voyage in the Siberian Arctic

The US' largest and most technologically advanced coast guard vessel, the icebreaker USCGC Healy, has visited Tromsø after an international research voyage in the Eastern Arctic Ocean. In previous years, this voyage has been conducted with Russian icebreakers.

Well over a month ago, Healy embarked on a research voyage in the eastern part of the Arctic Ocean from Kodiak, Alaska – and lately, the vessel has operated with the Norwegian coast guard vessel KV Svalbard in the Barents Sea.

The purpose of the voyage was to investigate the condition of the Siberian Arctic – where climate change has significantly affected the ocean, ice, and atmosphere. With several scientists aboard, Healy has operated the Nansen and Amundsen Basins Observational System (NABOS).

Contact: Jonathon Taylor

For more information on the UA Newswire, contact Integrated Media Manager Rebecca Lawhorne at ralawhorne@alaska.edu.