A Tribute to Vera Alexander

ARCUS reaches a milestone this year with the retirement of Vera Alexander as President of the Board of Directors, a position she's held with distinction for the past ten years. A founding member of the organization, Vera's vision for and dedication to ARCUS and its mission in support of arctic research is unsurpassed.

In 1965 Vera became the first woman to receive a PhD from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). Upon obtaining her degree she quickly distinguished herself by receiving the appointment of Assistant Professor at the fledgling UAF Institute of Marine Science (IMS). By 1980 she became IMS Director. When UAF established the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in 1987 she became its first dean, serving for nearly 20 years before stepping down in 2004 to serve as Assistant to the Provost for Fisheries and Ocean Policy.

As a distinguished expert in the field of biological oceanography, she is recognized nationally and internationally for her research in the field of marine science. Her service to the science spans many organizations, most notably 16 years on the Marine Mammal Commission, a founder of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) serving several years as the U.S. delegate and four years as chair, and 12 years on the International Scientific Steering Committee (SSC) of the Census of Marine Life (COML). In 2011 the COML SSC received the prestigious International Cosmos Prize.

She has authored or coauthored over 70 papers published in refereed literature and received many honors, including elections as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), to the Arctic Institute of North America, and to the Explorers Club. She received an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Hokkaido University in recognition of her work promoting international scientific cooperation.

Of her many achievements the launch of the Research Vessel (R/V) Sikuliaq is signal. Vera's vision for and involvement in its concept and planning led to construction of the first ice-strengthened research vessel built by NSF. NSF rewarded her tenacity and commitment to making the R/V Sikuliaq a reality by inviting her to christen the ship on the occasion of its 2012 launch.

ARCUS will miss Vera's leadership, collegiality, deep commitment to arctic research, and especially her vision. She embodies ARCUS, making it the organization it is today. The board and staff wish her much success as she continues her distinguished career. We thank her for many years of service and especially for her many contributions to the work of ARCUS and arctic research.

— Susan E. Fox
     Executive Director, ARCUS