Latest Research News and Events

July 19, 2017

A University of Alaska Fairbanks team and a Canadian company have flown an unmanned aircraft beyond the line of sight for the first time as part of efforts to bring such aircraft to northern airports. The beyond-line-of-sight flights took place in the last week of June 2017 at Alma, Quebec, Canada. The UAF Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration and Arctic UAV Inc., a company based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada, conducted the flights. Their work was part of a Transport Canada Aircraft Services Directorate effort to safely integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the regular air traffic at northern airports. The ACUASI team included representatives from Griffon Aerospace, Unmanned Systems Alaska and Trillium Engineering. They... read more
July 18, 2017
Mary Ehrlander, professor of history and director of Arctic and Northern studies; Brandon Boylan, associate professor of political science and associate director of Arctic and Northern studies; and Troy Bouffard, instructor of homeland security and emergency management at UAF, co-organized a week-long program focused on science and diplomacy in the Arctic at Dartmouth College June 26-30. Dartmouth organizers include Melody Burkins Brown, associate director for programs and research in the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding and adjunct professor in environmental studies; and Leah Sarson, a postdoctoral fellow with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Carolyn Kozak, an M.A. student in Arctic... read more
July 18, 2017

University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists have completed the first cruise in a new comprehensive program studying late spring dynamics in the Bering and Chukchi seas. Researchers from the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences spent the month of June 2017 on research vessel Sikuliaq investigating variables that influence spring productivity and food web dynamics, and studying how declining ice cover may influence Arctic ecosystems. “Scientists have tended to study the Arctic later in the summer, when ice is low and it’s easier to get around,” said CFOS professor and chief scientist Seth Danielson. “But there are biologically important processes that also occur in winter and spring, so our focus is shifting to these other times of year,... read more
July 10, 2017

University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers have discovered that volcanoes have a unique way of dealing with pressure — through crystals. According to a new study published in the Journal of Geology, a network of microscopic crystals can lessen the internal pressure of rising magma and reduce the explosiveness of eruptions. Crystals can form in the rising molten rock in as little as 18 minutes. If the magma becomes more than 20 percent crystals, they can act like guard rails that funnel gas to possible cracks within the volcano or to the opening at the Earth’s surface. “The problem is when the gas can’t get out,” said Amanda Lindoo, lead author and UAF geosciences doctoral student. “That causes a buildup in pressure that can lead to the... read more
July 7, 2017

Chris Sannito’s dog Sammy is really happy that his owner has developed a tasty pet treat made out of pollock skins. Informal taste tests by Sammy and other Kodiak canines indicate the treats — although not fishy smelling to humans — have plenty of that deep-sea essence dogs love so much. Sannito is an Alaska Sea Grant seafood technology specialist based at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center. Just prior to his hire in March 2015, Sannito started working with faculty at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on a research grant from the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center. The task was to determine whether pollock skins could be turned into a product that was tasty to dogs, easy for humans to handle and shelf-stable for... read more
July 6, 2017

<i>UAF GI photo by Elle Fournier</i><br>From left, Kirk Hogenson, Alaska Satellite Facility software engineer; ASF student employees Hal Dimarchi, William Horn and Rohan Weeden; and ASF Director Nettie LaBelle-Hamer gather in the ASF office. 

Three undergraduate student employees of the Alaska Satellite Facility are collaborating to make satellite data more accessible. Hal Dimarchi, Rohan Weeden and William Horn are all students in the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ computer science program. They are working at  the satellite facility over the summer as a team to develop a program to help interpret data collected by satellites. This student team is picking up where last summer’s student group left off, taking radar data and creating algorithms to help synthesize useful information. “We are writing a piece of software where you can write programs and scripts,” said Weeden. The software, called an application programming interface or API, gives users who are not extensively... read more
July 6, 2017

For most of us, the tri-tone jingle emanating from our cellphone signals a text message from a friend, or maybe an incoming email. But for University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute researchers and colleagues working with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, that familiar tone may be the first sign of a volcanic eruption. Bogoslof is a remote volcano, 835 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Aleutian Islands, that has been erupting since December. To keep tabs on this now six-month-long eruptive event, AVO has vastly increased automated alarms. Now when signs of an eruption are detected, that information is broadcasted directly to AVO researchers’ phones as text messages. “Bogoslof is more remote and has less human impact than some... read more
June 22, 2017

University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Liberal Arts Dean Todd Sherman has begun a weeks-long public art demonstration at the UA Museum of the North to accompany the “Polar Passion” special exhibit. Multiple live broadcasts on Facebook during coming weeks will allow viewers to observe Sherman’s progress in real time. Visitors are also invited to watch the painting come to life in the museum lobby. Sherman, a well-known local artist, has been a professor for over 20 years and became dean of the College of Liberal Arts in fall 2012. This is Sherman’s largest live painting demonstration to date. The still unnamed piece will be on display with the “Polar Passion” exhibit through the end of the year. “Polar Passion” contains select works of... read more
June 20, 2017

A mid-June training session in Unalaska offered instruction on how to report large whale entanglements, what to look for and, most importantly, what not to do in these high-risk situations. The intended audience included fishermen, professional mariners, biologists and law enforcement officers, said Ed Lyman, a large whale entanglement response coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Hawaii. Lyman led the training. Alaska Sea Grant and NOAA Fisheries hosted the Unalaska event June 12-13. According to the International Whaling Commission, the number of whale entanglements is growing worldwide. While the problem is hard to assess because many instances go unreported, a recent IWC study estimated that 308,000... read more
June 20, 2017

Download text and photo captions here. New tools from satellite images are helping locate Alaska wildfires and forecast weather to protect firefighters. In Alaska’s remote areas, a wildfire might not be spotted immediately by residents or pilots. While such a fire may be out of sight, its heat will show up in satellite images. This summer, the Geographic Information Network Alaska at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute is creating a new type of satellite image that reveals fire details. It forwards the images to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which provided GINA with grant money for the work, and the National Weather Service. “We can learn about a fire, sometimes, hours before it would have become apparent... read more
June 20, 2017

Increasing fuel prices and new regulations have caused halibut charter fishermen to change fishing locations, according to a new study by University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, highlights the importance of understanding how economics and regulations may affect fishing locations or species preferences in recreational fisheries. College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences doctoral student Maggie Chan and professor Anne Beaudreau studied how charter fishing locations outside of Homer and Sitka have changed since the 1990s. The analysis is one piece of a larger effort to understand how external factors influence fishing behavior and opportunities. The researchers interviewed charter fishermen in... read more
June 13, 2017
University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers have received a $4.25 million federal grant to help Alaska Native communities use the most effective ways of preventing suicides. The UAF Institute of Arctic Biology, Center for Alaska Native Health Research and College of Rural and Community Development received the five-year grant. It was one of three awarded nationwide by the National Institutes of Health. UAF will use the grant to establish the Alaska Native Collaborative Hub for Research Resilience. The hub will help communities adopt culturally relevant strategies to prevent suicides. “The answers to our staggering statewide suicide rate are in our communities and Alaska Native cultural values,” said Stacy Rasmus, one of the project’s... read more
May 31, 2017

Nothing makes Greg Shipman and his colleagues happier than a challenge. “We have to be ready for whatever walks through that door,” said Shipman, manager of the machine shop at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. Often, that means creating something mechanical for scientists. Earlier this spring, their work took a more prosthetic turn. A radiologist at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital asked the crew to create a 3-D plastic model of a 12-year-old’s thigh bone, or femur. The model would allow the surgeon assigned to the child’s case to visualize how the surgery would be completed. For this patient, it was particularly important that the femur be properly aligned. Just a few degrees of rotation could mean the difference... read more
May 31, 2017

In a cramped workshop at his home near Fox, Orion Lawlor is working to develop the technology that could someday allow people to live on Mars. Lawlor’s creations are modest — small plastic beams and thin, hollow cylinders that can be filled with powdered rock. But items like those, which are created by his one-of-a-kind 3-D printer, may eventually become the components for creating habitat in space. The creations earned Lawlor, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a winning entry in the most recent phase of NASA’s 3D-Printed Habitat Challenge in May. That included a prize of $14,070 from the U.S. space agency, which is seeking innovative ways to build structures on distant planets. Lawlor was... read more
May 25, 2017

Alaska Sea Grant and partners have placed five fellows in one-year positions with state and federal agencies in Alaska. The aim is to advance the fellows’ careers as well as support marine and fisheries policy in Alaska. The State Fellowship program helps to strengthen Alaska’s workforce dedicated to healthy fisheries, coastal communities and ecosystems by encouraging recipients to begin their careers in Alaska. Chelsea Clawson, who is earning her master’s degree in fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, will take a job at the U.S. Geological Survey, while Genevieve Johnson, also in the fisheries master’s program at UAF, will work at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center. The North... read more