Interdisciplinary Researchers Connect During Anchorage Arctic Research Day

By: Diane Hirshberg, Advisor to the Chancellor on Arctic Research and Education, University of Alaska Anchorage

On 24 March 2017, ARCUS and the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), in conjunction with the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), co-hosted the first ever Anchorage Arctic Research Day. This event, held on the UAA campus, brought together Arctic researchers from the university, indigenous, federal, state, local, and non-profit entities to share descriptions of the work they are doing and to foster new collaborations. The day included welcomes from Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, UAA Chancellor Tom Case, and representatives of Senator Lisa Murkowski and the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. Fran Ulmer, chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, gave a keynote address, discussing the USARC's current priority goals for Arctic research as well as highlights of the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the White House Arctic Science Ministerial meeting in September 2016.

Fran Ulmer, USARC Chair (left) and Diane Hirshberg, UAA Advisor to the Chancellor (right). Photo courtesy of Kirstin Olmstead.Fran Ulmer, USARC Chair (left) and Diane Hirshberg, UAA Advisor to the Chancellor (right). Photo courtesy of Kirstin Olmstead.

There were two panels featuring UAA faculty members discussing their current Arctic research projects, one focusing on Social Sciences, Health and Humanities, and another on Natural Sciences and Engineering research. A third panel included researchers from federal, state, and quasi-governmental agencies with offices in Anchorage; researchers and leaders from two Anchorage-based indigenous organizations—Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska and Aleut International Association—that participate as Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council; the head of the Arctic Studies Center of the Smithsonian Institution; and the Institute of the North. IARPC participants presented an overview of the recently-launched IARPC Arctic Research Plan and discussed ways that researchers and community members could be involved. The executive director of the University of Alaska's Arctic Domain Awareness Center (ADAC) also described the work of this Department of Homeland Security-funded Center of Excellence. Bob Rich, ARCUS Executive Director, gave an overview of opportunities for researchers to engage with ARCUS. The day was capped off with a poster reception that was kicked off with a poem entitled "Ode to the Great Bear (Arktos)," written by UAA professor Toby Widdicombe for the occasion.

Download Ode to the Great Bear (Arktos) (PDF - 85 KB)

Dr. Toby Widdicombe, UAA, presents on Arctic Thule: The Search for an Arctic Utopia. Photo courtesy of Diane Hirsberg.Dr. Toby Widdicombe, UAA, presents on Arctic Thule: The Search for an Arctic Utopia. Photo courtesy of Diane Hirsberg.

Participants were excited by the opportunity to connect with researchers with whom they typically do not get to meet in their regular work; there are plans to create an online network to facilitate ongoing discussions among the Anchorage Arctic research community and to develop new collaboration opportunities. There are also discussions about making the Anchorage Arctic Research Day a reoccurring event.

More information about the Anchorage Arctic Research Day, including the event agenda and presentations, is available here.