Community and Citizen Science in the Far North Keynote Speakers

Joel Heath

Joel Heath

Joel is an accomplished Canadian academic and filmmaker, former Fulbright Chair in Arctic Studies and a 2020 Ashoka fellow. He has 20 years of Arctic experience working with Inuit communities combining his expertise in ecology, sea ice dynamics, and mathematical biology with Inuit knowledge. He is Executive Director and co-founder of the Arctic Eider Society, an Inuit-driven charity based in Sanikiluaq Nunavut. Through this position he has worked with Inuit to help develop a network of community-driven research programs, curriculum for northern schools, directed/produced the 16x award winning film People of a Feather, and most recently developed online and mobile technology for Inuit self-determination in research through SIKU: the Indigenous Knowledge Social Network, winner of the Google.org Impact Challenge in Canada.


Kaare Sikuaq Erickson

Kaare Sikuaq Erickson

Kaare Ray Sikuaq Erickson is the Principal and team lead for Ikaaġun Engagement, based in Unalakleet and Anchorage, Alaska. Sikuaq was raised on the Bering Sea coast and has family scattered across northern Alaska from Unalakleet to Shishmaref to Utqiaġvik. Sikuaq was taught to provide for his communities through subsistence and leadership; to be aware of problems facing Arctic communities; and to find creative, realistic, and effective ways to alleviate or solve those issues. Sikuaq spent nearly two decades immersed in cultural studies and has most recently spent several years developing and implementing creative, effective, and efficient outreach, engagement and K-12 education programs for high profile Arctic research projects. Sikuaq's unique upbringing and specialized training allows him to successfully fulfill his role as cultural broker connecting Arctic communities and Arctic research entities.


Katie Spellman

Katie Spellman

Dr. Katie Spellman is a lifelong Alaskan with a passion for community and citizen science, plants, social justice, and family. Her parents, Jim and Chris Villano, were teachers in St. Mary's, Alaska, and later Fairbanks, where Katie was born. She went to Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA and earned her bachelor's degree in Biology, and after several years working in the homeless community of Tacoma, WA, returned home for graduate studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Katie got her start in community science working with students in collecting data on invasive species after wildfire in her master's work, and later becoming the program coordinator for the Alaska CoastWalk program and Marine Debris monitoring programs at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies in Homer, Alaska. She went on to center her PhD and subsequent career on citizen and community science. She has worked with amazing teams to create and operate three completed and five ongoing citizen and community science projects at UAF on the topics of berries, invasive plants, freshwater ice, and community-driven climate change questions. Katie is a wife and mother of two, and the whole family volunteers for other citizen science efforts, making hikes, skis, and walks very slow!