Arctic Encounter Symposium brings attention to UAF research

UA leaders at AES
UA president's Twitter account
UA Regent Lisa Parker, IARC Director Hajo Eicken, UA President Pat Pitney and UA Regent Sheri Buretta taking a break at the Arctic Encounter Symposium in Anchorage on Thursday, April 7

UAF research had a strong presence at the Arctic Encounter Symposium last week in Anchorage. 

The University of Alaska was one of the co-hosts for the event, which drew about 500 people to the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. The conference brings together global leaders to discuss shared issues and interests in the Arctic. 

Several University of Alaska representatives, including UA President Pat Pitney, UAF Chancellor Dan White and UAA Chancellor Sean Parnell, attended the symposium. They were among the policymakers, industry leaders, regional stakeholders and experts in science, technology, energy and maritime issues who assembled to discuss shared Arctic interests and concerns.

It was the first time the Arctic Encounter Symposium was held in Alaska and was the first gathering since 2019 following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. All six previous symposiums were held in Seattle. Organizers said the event would now be held annually in Alaska.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy spoke during the Thursday luncheon. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was a keynote speaker and then joined Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia for a keynote dinner panel discussion moderated by Washington Post journalist Libby Casey, a former KUAC reporter. Casey also moderated a dinner panel discussion with ambassadors to the U.S. from Canada, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Numerous sessions were offered over the two days and included such subjects as “Healthy communities, resilient communities,” “Emerging leadership for the Arctic & Alaska,” “Indigenous women in Arctic leadership,” “21st century policy & technology innovation for the North” and “Adapting to the challenges of Arctic climate change.”

The list of dozens of speakers for the event’s various panel discussions included people from numerous local and national governments and entities, including Caroline Cochrane, premier of Canada’s Northwest Territories; P.J. Akeeagok, premier of Canada’s Nunavut; Jim DeHart, U.S. coordinator for the Arctic region at the U.S. State Department; Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, 17th District Commander, U.S. Coast Guard; North Slope Borough Mayor Harry K. Brower Jr.; Kotzebue Mayor Sandra Shroyer and Mayor Kenny Bell of the city of Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Franz Mueter at AES
Photo courtesy Alice Bailey.
Franz Mueter of CFOS speaking at the Arctic Encounter Symposium.

Science communicators from the Geophysical Institute, International Arctic Research Center and College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences staffed a double-length table paid for by UA President Pitney and designed to highlight university research, though only UAF units were present. The table had visitors throughout Thursday and Friday, with inquiries from industry, government and community representatives.

Geophysical Institute Director Bob McCoy attended, and GI science communicator Rod Boyce worked the UA research table.

UAF communications team at a table
Photo courtesy of Alice Bailey
The UAF communications team, from left, Heather McFarland, Rod Boyce and Alice Bailey.

From the International Arctic Research Center, presenters included Director Hajo Eicken and Brendan Kelly. IARC attendees also included Jessica Garron, Nicholas Parlato, Amy Lovecraft and Athena Copenhaver. Science communicator Heather McFarland represented IARC at the UA research table.

From the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Franz Mueter participated in a panel discussion about the future of fisheries management in the Arctic. Science communicator Alice Bailey represented CFOS and R/V Sikuliaq at the UA research table. Brian Barnes of the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology also attended.

Co-hosts in addition to the University of Alaska included Alaska Airlines, ConocoPhillips Alaska and Citizens for Responsible Energy Solution.