Celebrate the life of three scientists at T Field bonfire

A map of the path from the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus to the bonfire site in the T Field
Map courtesy of Scott Yeats
The map shows the location of the bonfires in the T Field north of the main University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.

A community gathering under the full moon on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus is planned to honor three scientists who were killed in a helicopter crash in July on Alaska’s North Slope. 

Ronnie Daanen, Justin Germann and Tori Moore, scientists with close ties to UAF, were killed in the accident, along with pilot Bernard “Tony” Higdon, 48, of North Pole.  

The gathering, from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 27, will be centered on two bonfires in the OneTree research plot (at the northwest end of the four-acre T Field plot). Hot drinks and snacks will be provided. Three trees, located along the southern boundary of the plot, have been dedicated to the three scientists by their families, said Jan Dawe, director of OneTree Alaska. A path of ice candles will lead participants to the three trees.

These trees have a special function. They are not research trees, but were planted as a border around the outside perimeter of the plot to ensure the research trees inside the plot have equal shading and protection from wind. 

“Like the scientists who we lost, these boundary trees are guardians of sound research in a time of climate change,” Dawe said.

OneTree coordinates a network of citizen scientists who take observations and yearly measurements of the growth and development of the 130 research trees in the plot.

The Nov. 27 event is the first of four planned full-moon events in the T Field this winter. 

Participants can get to the bonfire from the ski hut on UAF’s West Ridge via skis, snowshoes or winter boots by following the commuter trail to the T Field, following the signs that designate ski trails or walking/snowshoe trails. A headlamp is recommended if the moon isn’t visible. 

For more information, contact Dawe at 907-474-5907 or jcdawe@alaska.edu.