Latest Research News and Events

October 12, 2018

<i>Heather McFarland photo</i><br>St. Paul Island students show off their scallop finger puppets and king crab crowns during Bering Sea Days.

“I’m a food chain,” yelled an enthusiastic 6-year-old. With her handmade red king crab crown, scallop finger puppet, phytoplankton sparkles and sun necklace, this young learner transformed into an ocean food chain. When asked who’s at the top of the food chain, she responded, “kindergarteners from St. Paul Island, Alaska.” This was just one of many hands-on science activities that took place at St. Paul School last month during Bering Sea Days. The annual weeklong program is hosted by the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island Tribal Government. Over 20 scientists, journalists and policy experts traveled to the remote Pribilof Islands to give K-12 students an opportunity to learn about local science and careers. Several International Arctic... read more
October 11, 2018
The University of Alaska Fairbanks will host the PacTrans Region 10 Transportation Conference on Oct. 12. The daylong conference provides an opportunity for attendees to share ideas about transportation research, education, workforce development and future collaboration. More than 100 transportation officials from throughout the Pacific Northwest are expected at PacTrans. The keynote speaker will be Ryan Anderson, assistant commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation, who will be followed by a day of presentations led by a diverse group of transportation experts. Topics will focus on areas such as autonomous travel, traffic safety and emerging vehicle technology. Specific sessions include “The Controversy of Technology,” which... read more
October 8, 2018
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is recruiting participants for an 18-month study of heating fuel use in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Dominique Pride, a researcher at UAF’s Alaska Center for Energy and Power, needs 150 participants for the study, which will collect data on fuel use via meters attached to vented stoves such as Toyostoves or Monitor heaters. Participants will be compensated $150 and will receive detailed information on their fuel use and how to reduce it. The data collected from the study will help researchers evaluate the software that estimates home fuel use in Alaska, as well as provide information about the energy efficiency of Fairbanks homes and how the cost of energy affects household budgets. To learn more... read more
October 8, 2018

<i>Photo by Melissa Frey, Royal British Columbia Museum</i><br /> Examples of this species of invasive bryozoan, Bugula neritina, have been discovered near Ketchikan.

Scientists and local volunteers have detected a new invasive species in the waters of Southeast Alaska. Alaska Sea Grant’s Gary Freitag, Marine Advisory agent in Ketchikan, is a member of the scientific team that discovered Bugula neritina, an invertebrate filter feeder also referred to as a branching bryozoan. These tiny organisms form colonies and are sometimes called moss animals or sea lace. “They’re very aggressive. They have the potential to rob native species of food and oxygen. Some marine invasive species, such as colonial tunicates, have been known to wipe out shellfish beds, killing valuable species like oysters and clams,” said Freitag. The scientific team included researchers from the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center... read more
October 3, 2018

UAF researchers, from left, Jeff Benowitz, Eric Collins and Ken Tape have received individual research grants from the National Science Foundation's Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.

Three University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers have received substantial individual awards from the National Science Foundation. The awards will fund Jeff Benowitz, R. Eric Collins and Ken Tape to further their research by collaborating with scientists in Oregon, Massachusetts and Arizona, respectively. Benowitz, a research assistant professor with the Geophysical Institute, received $220,043 for his proposal “Why are Young Volcanic Rocks Undateable: Chemistry, Environment, or Instrumentation?” The funding will enable Benowitz and a graduate student to work with researchers at Oregon State University to determine the age of young volcanic rocks from Alaska’s Aleutian and Wrangell arcs. The project will investigate how the chemistry and... read more
October 1, 2018

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute has received a Defense Department designation to research topics important to national security. The department recently chose the Geophysical Institute to serve as a University Affiliated Research Center, with a charter to perform research focused on geophysical detection of nuclear detonations. It is one of only 17 centers in the country. As a UARC, the Geophysical Institute is now eligible to receive long-term, sole-source funding from the Defense Department. The institute can continue to receive federal research funding through normal competitive procedures, when it is not in conflict with the UARC contract. “I am especially pleased that UAF’s broad range of research and... read more
September 25, 2018

<i>Photo courtesy of ACUASI</i><br>The UAF Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration will use Responder aircraft such as this in some of the first missions beyond an operator's eyesight.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks and its partners can now routinely fly unmanned aircraft out of their operators’ eyesight during commercial activities. The UAF Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration and its collaborators recently received approval for the flights from the Federal Aviation Administration. The ACUASI team is the first in the state allowed to routinely fly beyond visual line of sight during commercial activities. “For Alaska, this means we are on our way to being able to fly the beyond visual line of sight missions that industry and government in Alaska need to serve the people of Alaska,” said ACUASI Director Catherine Cahill. “For UAF, it means we are leading one of the top programs in the country, and... read more
September 19, 2018

A new $20 million National Science Foundation grant will support interdisciplinary climate research throughout the state of Alaska. The award will support “Fire and Ice: Navigating Variability in Boreal Wildfire Regimes and Subarctic Coastal Ecosystems,” a five-year research project by the Alaska Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, also know as EPSCoR, which is administered by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Fire and Ice researchers will use remote sensing, fieldwork, lab experiments and modeling to study two Alaska regions undergoing climate-driven changes: the boreal forest, where wildfire patterns are changing, and the Gulf of Alaska, where changing physical and chemical conditions are affecting nearshore marine... read more
September 14, 2018

<i>Photo by Heather McFarland</i><br> Hideki Kobayashi gathers information at Poker Flat Research Range to validate satellite data. Instruments from a 17-meter tower measure the carbon absorbed by the black spruce forest there.

Download text and photo captions here. A new Japanese satellite will monitor global climate change and the health of the Earth, from space. Scientists are now validating the satellite by gathering and measuring thousands of leaves from around the world, a feat possible only through international collaboration. As plants grow, they use the sun’s energy to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen and energy, a process called photosynthesis. Current estimates suggest that plants absorb as much as a quarter of the excess carbon dioxide emitted by humans. Nicknamed Shikisai, meaning colors in Japanese, the satellite GCOM-C will help researchers understand the important role that plants play in mitigating the impacts of climate change. Measuring from... read more
September 11, 2018

<i>Photo courtesy of Cisco Werner</i><br /> Cisco Werner stands near the ice edge in Svalbard.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief science advisor will talk about emerging technologies for fisheries and ocean research from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus. NOAA’s Cisco Werner will present the 2018 Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Keynote Seminar, sponsored by the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Werner’s presentation in Fairbanks will be in the Murie Building auditorium. Streaming is available at
September 7, 2018
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Large Animal Research Station will close out the summer tour season with a special event for local residents Saturday, Sept. 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the station off Yankovich Road. The event will include tours, a coloring table for children and 10 percent off all T-shirts and hoodies. Admission is three nonperishable food items, which will be donated to the Fairbanks Community Food Bank. For more information, join the event on Facebook at or email
September 7, 2018

Casey Clark photo. A Pacific walrus takes a nap on some ice in the Chukchi Sea.

Download text and photo captions here. I never thought I’d have a tray of walrus ovaries on my desk. Earlier this summer, I planned an interview to learn about a student project looking at zinc concentrations in walrus teeth. Things have certainly escalated since then. University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences graduate student Casey Clark is studying how zinc concentrations in the teeth of female walruses may reveal valuable information about when a walrus first ovulated. Clark and his team believe ovulations earlier in life indicate that enough resources are available for population growth. By cross-checking zinc levels with how many times a walrus ovulated over her reproductive lifetime, they are able to see... read more
August 24, 2018

<i>Photo courtesy of HAARP, UAF Geophysical Institute</i><br> A red fox tours the antenna array at the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program facility operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Gakona.

The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP, will host an open house on Aug. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Gakona, Alaska. The facility is managed and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Scientists around the world use HAARP to study physics in the ionosphere, which is the highest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere. The open house will allow people to see the facility up close and learn from experts about the research that happens at HAARP. There will be tours of the operations building and the antenna array. In addition, scientists will give talks about the science behind HAARP, and there will be family-friendly, science-based activities. The event is free and open to the public. Food will be available for... read more
August 20, 2018

<i>Photo by Courtney Carothers</i><br /> A halibut fishing boat sits at a dock in Kodiak.

Individual transferable quota systems for fisheries around the world may be ideal for some fisheries, but they can exclude rural, indigenous, low-income and next-generation fishermen from the industry, according to a new paper co-authored by a University of Alaska Fairbanks professor. “ITQs are being advocated across the board without much reflection on what individual fisheries need,” said College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences professor Courtney Carothers. “ITQs might work well for some big industrial fisheries, but, for small-scale fisheries, they’ve had lots of negative consequences.” Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the paper was the result of a workshop that gathered international social scientists... read more
August 15, 2018

<i>Photo by Suzanne Strom</i><br /> Researchers and crew deploy different kinds of nets off the side of Sikuliaq to collect plankton from the water.

For 20 years, researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and collaborators have gathered data along the Seward Line, a set of oceanographic survey stations in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Their goal has been to better understand processes that support the region’s thriving fish, crab, seabird and marine mammal populations. In May 2018, the first expedition of the newly funded Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-term Ecological Research program revolutionized data collection in the Gulf of Alaska by increasing the space and workforce available to conduct complex experiments at sea. The NGA LTER, funded by the National Science Foundation, used the research vessel Sikuliaq to dig deeper into processes... read more