Latest Research News and Events

June 13, 2018

<i>Photo courtesy of Uma Bhatt</i><br /> Uma Bhatt and husband David Newman stand under a sign marking the equator in Kenya, where they served two years with the Peace Corps during the mid-1980s.

Uma Bhatt always knew she wanted to help people. As a kid, she thought she might become a social worker or a doctor. While growing up in Pittsburgh, she did particularly well in math and science but had an interest in learning Russian as well. Her father thought she should study engineering. “You have expensive taste. You like nice things,” she remembered him saying. “So at least get the engineering degree so you can support yourself. Then, if you can make a career out of the Russian, fine.” At the University of Pittsburgh, Bhatt met David Newman in the honors program while studying engineering. “The two of us were very intellectually compatible, so we started off having rather deep conversations about all kinds of things,” Newman said. A... read more
June 8, 2018

<i>Photo by Chris Carlson</i><br /> Andy Sterns of Fairbanks competes in the Alaska Endurance Trail Run, during which he kept moving for 24 hours.

All of a sudden, we are again the land of no night. Summer happens every year, but it is always a surprise. Maybe because winter is the normal state of middle Alaska, with a white ground surface possible from late September until late April. Over the years, I have marked this frenetic, green time by slaving my body clock to the circling sun and trying to stay awake at least once for 24 hours. Races are a convenient way to do this. This year, there was one on the calendar I could not resist. The Alaska Endurance Trail Run is a six-mile loop through my backyard, the North Campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The North Campus is 1,100 acres of boreal forest, cleared fields and a few lakes owned by the university. It’s a rectangle of... read more
June 5, 2018

A graduate student from UAF has won a prestigious fellowship with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Richard Buzard, a recent graduate from the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, is working on his doctoral studies in geoscience with Chris Maio, an assistant professor of coastal geography. The two-year fellowship provides on-the-job training opportunities in coastal resource management and policy for postgraduate students, and provides project assistance to Digital Coast partner organizations. Buzard, a former Alaska Sea Grant research trainee, will be based in Anchorage and work under the supervision of Jacquelyn Overbeck, lead scientist and manager of the Coastal Hazards Program within the State of Alaska’s... read more
June 4, 2018

<i>Photo by Carl Tape</i><br /> Lakes in the roadless Minto Flats surround the Tanana River in this photo from July 2014. The ridge on the horizon leads down to the town of Nenana, Alaska. Seismic stations placed in this unique region detected some intriguing pre-earthquake activity.

Earth scientists consistently look for a reliable way to forecast earthquakes. New research from University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute professor Carl Tape may help in that endeavor, due to a unique set of circumstances. “Our observations have recorded an unequivocally interesting sequence of events,” Tape said. Tape and his colleagues found evidence for accelerating activity before a 2016 earthquake in a laterally moving fault zone in central Alaska. The activity included a phenomenon known as very low-frequency earthquakes, referring to the type of energy waves associated with it. Typical earthquakes have two associated energy waves, called the P and S waves. Very low-frequency earthquakes do not have such signals.... read more
May 31, 2018

<i>Photo by Ned Rozell</i><br>Buildings like this shed at the townsite of Fortymile in the Yukon don’t last forever. Water is the chief agent of destruction.

In Alan Weisman’s book, “The World Without Us,” the author ponders “a world from which we all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow.” In his thought experiment, Weisman travels around the world to explore that question, revealing that cockroaches and bedbugs would not fare well without our sloppiness and warmth, but Theodore Roosevelt’s granite face will stare down from Mount Rushmore for the next 7.2 million years. Weisman devotes a chapter to buildings, going into detail on their natural, gradual destruction. It all begins with water, Weisman writes, quoting a farmer who said a sure way to destroy a barn is to cut an 18-inch hole in its roof. Posed with the question of the fate of Alaska structures without us, researchers with the Cold Climate... read more
May 30, 2018

<i>Photo by Kevin Kurtz</i><br /> Michael Whalen, of UAF's Geophysical Institute, and Elise Chenot, a French doctoral student, describe a sediment core from the Chicxulub impact crater at the IODP Bremen Core Repository in Germany. The screens have images from CT scans of the core.

Life returned to the asteroid-blasted Chicxulub crater much sooner than at some other sites far from the impact point 66 million years ago, according to a University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist and fellow researchers.
May 25, 2018
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has announced the winners of the second Alaska Center for Microgrid Technologies Commercialization competition. Intergrid LLC, an inverter company based in Temple, New Hampshire, received the grand prize laboratory testing award. The award includes 40 lab days, which the company  will use for testing its equipment in the Power Systems Integration Lab at the UAF Alaska Center for Energy and Power. The lab can evaluate equipment under a range of real-world scenarios and will help Intergrid test the design of a replicable energy storage system for rural communities in Alaska. “Intergrid is paving the way to increased use of renewable energy in Alaskan villages by developing inverters that can act as power... read more
May 23, 2018

ice fog

Atmospheric scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have launched an effort to better understand urban air quality problems in northern cities. During the next few years, Bill Simpson and Jingqiu Mao of UAF’s Geophysical Institute hope to join international researchers on a large-scale field study to understand the chemistry behind air pollutants in Arctic and sub-Arctic cities. Fairbanks, Alaska, has the worst year-round air quality out of 187 U.S. cities, according to a 2018 report from the American Lung Association. The ranking is mainly due to particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns across, roughly one-thirtieth the width of a human hair. Simpson and his colleagues want to know where these tiny particles come from and how... read more
May 23, 2018
Two researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks have received awards and project funding from the National Science Foundation. Srijan Aggarwal, an assistant professor at the College of Engineering and Mines, and Carie Green, an associate professor at the School of Education, were awarded CAREER grants this spring through the NSF Faculty Early Career Development Program. The awards recognize early-career faculty who have strong potential to show leadership in their field by integrating education and research. “These are very competitive and important research grants for faculty early in their academic and research lives,” said UAF Vice Chancellor for Research Larry Hinzman. “Receiving such a large and prestigious award early in one’s... read more
May 22, 2018
A new web-based tool will allow communities in Alaska and western Canada to see how global climate change could affect their regions. A team in the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks created the tool, which transforms predictions from global climate models into more detailed information about local conditions. “We recognized that these global climate models by themselves cannot be used at face value,” said UAF’s John Walsh, the project’s lead researcher. “The raw output is not suitable for what many users or decision-makers want. That recognition was the motivator.” So the team created a community charts tool to help people see and interpret the data. The tool displays temperature and... read more
May 18, 2018
The University of Alaska Fairbanks will host two public events on Tuesday, May 29, in conjunction with Alaska National Lab Day. A free self-guided walking tour through 11 UAF research facilities is scheduled from 3-5 p.m. Climate science, geosciences, natural resources and engineering researchers will talk about their projects and show visitors around their labs. The walking tour includes stops for refreshments along the way. Visit for more information and to download a tour map. From 6-9 p.m. Alaska researchers and Native leaders will present “TEDx-UniversityOfAlaskaFairbanks.” The talks will focus on energy and other Alaska challenges. The talks are open to people 21 and older, and admission is $75.... read more
May 18, 2018
Scientists and health officials from six Arctic nations, including the United States, will meet at the University of Alaska Fairbanks May 21-22 for two days of discussions and presentations centered around One Health. One Health is an approach to public policy and research that focuses on the ways that environmental, animal and human health are interconnected. The concept has a wide variety of scientific, public health and policy applications. “One Health is a way of looking at systemic issues and trying to solve them from the root cause, rather than just treating the symptoms. It starts with gathering information at a community level,” said Dr. Arleigh Reynolds, a UAF professor of clinical nutrition and veterinarian who is slated to lead... read more
May 15, 2018
Six graduate students selected by Alaska Sea Grant will spend a year working with state and federal agencies to support healthy coastal communities and the marine environment. Alaska Sea Grant chose the students to participate in its State Fellowship program. The fellowships strengthen Alaska’s workforce by cultivating future professionals working in marine science and policy, fisheries, and related disciplines. “I’m thrilled to welcome this new cohort of Alaska Sea Grant State Fellows. This is a highly competitive program and these students are promising future leaders in their chosen fields,” said Ginny Eckert, interim director of Alaska Sea Grant. “We are building capacity in Alaska and providing career opportunities for young... read more
May 8, 2018

<i>Photo courtesy ACUASI</i><br /> A Responder unmanned helicopter, owned by the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration, sits near a glacier. ACUASI, part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, will participate in a new federal program to help merge drones into the nation's airspace.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks will join a new federal  initiative aimed at shaping the future of drones in America. The U.S. Department of Transportation selected UAF as one of 10 participants in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program. The program allows state, local and tribal governments to work with drone operators and manufacturers to speed up the safe entry of unmanned vehicles into the nation’s airspace. “We are thrilled to have brought a UAS Integration Pilot Program home to Alaska,” said Cathy Cahill, the director of the Alaska Center for UAS Integration in the UAF Geophysical Institute. “The 21 partners associated with our proposal represent the best UAS manufacturers, technology developers, operators and... read more
May 3, 2018

Government, industry and academic representatives met in Anchorage recently to discuss new ways to advance the state’s maritime sector. Alaska’s maritime industry — sometimes referred to as “Alaska’s blue economy” — supports over 70,000 jobs and is the state’s largest private employer, according to the Alaska Department of Labor. It includes fishermen, seafood processors, ocean managers and researchers, vessel operators, deckhands, mechanics and many others who work in jobs connected to Alaska’s 44,000 miles of shoreline and its multibillion-dollar annual seafood industry. While the blue economy is vibrant, it faces significant challenges. Obstacles include not having enough skilled workers, a lack of interest among young people to enter... read more