Welcome to Alaska NSF EPSCoR

Alaska NSF EPSCoR improves Alaska's scientific capacity by engaging in research projects supported through National Science Foundation and state funds. EPSCoR recently commenced "Fire and Ice," a five-year project to study climate-driven changes to Alaskan wildfire regimes and coastal ecosystems. For more information check out one-page summaries of each component of the program: Boreal Fires, Coastal Margins, and Diversity, Education and Workforce Development. You can also check out posters, presentations and publications from Fire and ice researchers.

Alaska NSF EPSCoR also helps to administer "Teaching Through Technologies," a three-year educational project to excite high school students about science through experiments with unmanned aerial vehicles, 3-D printers and codeable digital devices. EPSCoR also supports Alaska researchers through other funding streams. For more information about our history, take a look at this small poster that tracks the timeline and structure of NSF EPSCoR in Alaska.

For information on how to acknowledge EPSCoR support of your work, see the lower right corner of this page.

Harms, Jones and Tomco

NSF announces Track-4 awardees

Three University of Alaska researchers  recently received “Track-4” awards from the National Science Foundation. The awards will fund Tamara Harms, Ben Jones and Patrick Tomco to further their research by collaborating with scientists in New York, Connecticut, Louisiana and Florida.

Harms, an Assistant Professor of Ecology with the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology, will receive $126, 218 for her project, Arctic Nitrous Oxide (N2O): Training and Technical Advances to Quantify Emission of a Powerful Greenhouse Gas. Harms will work with researchers at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York to study the production in soils of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas. Large releases of nitrous oxide have been documented in high-latitude areas subject to permafrost thaw or wildfires, but it remains unclear how this nitrous oxide is produced and how long disturbed soils might generate emissions. This project will examine these processes with a goal of contributing to an improved ability to forecast potential N2O emissions under the warmer, more nutrient-rich, and more fire-prone conditions predicted for high-latitude ecosystems.

Jones, a Research Assistant Professor with the Water and Environmental Research Center at the UAF Institute of Northern Engineering, will receive $295,256 for his project, PermaSense: Investigating Permafrost Landscapes in Transition Using Multidimensional Remote Sensing, Data Fusion, and Machine Learning Techniques. Jones and a postdoctoral researcher will train and collaborate with researchers at the University of Connecticut to acquire new data fusion and machine learning techniques. These will be used to increase the capacity of “Permasense,” a project to gather and analyze multidimensional remote sensing data on permafrost degradation.

Tomco, an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the UAA Department of Chemistry, will receive $165,406 for his project, Formation, Photolysis, and Bioaccumulation of Dissolved Hydrocarbons from Chemically-Herded and Burned Crude Oil at High Latitudes. Tomco and a graduate student will use specialized equipment at the University of New Orleans and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida to analyze samples of Alaska North Slope crude oil, surface collection agents used to thicken oil spills to burn them off, and mussels collected from Resurrection Bay. These experiments will lead to a better understanding of how dissolved residues may form as a result of this type of oil spill remediation, how sunlight may transform these residues, and what impacts they might have on susceptible marine organisms.

Fire and Ice hiring Microbiologist

Fire and Ice has announced its next faculty opening, an Assistant Professor of Microbiology at the University of Alaska Southeast. The hire will assist in Fire and Ice research and be responsible for teaching courses including: Microbiology, a service course for the Nursing program, Forest Ecosystem-related courses for Biology and Environmental Sciences, and upper-division courses and seminars in their area of expertise.

The position is open until filled and initial application reviews will take place beginning December 15.

All Hands Meeting presentations and posters

If you missed the 2019 Alaska NSF EPSCoR All Hands Meeting, or you want to review any material presented there, we've uploaded PDFs of meeting presentations and posters.

Also, if you're looking for Fire and Ice stickers, bookmarks, or posters, swing by 202 WRRB at UAF.

Philippe Amstislavski of Rhizoform

Alaska TREND "Phase 0" winners

The Technology Research and Development Center of Alaska (Alaska TREND) has announced the 5 winners of its 2019 competition for “Phase 0” awards. These awards, which are funded by Alaska NSF EPSCoR, go to promising Alaskan tech start-ups to assist in applying for larger federal grant support. The winners are:

  • First Place: The Launch Company, which is developing technology for space launches including next-generation launch sites and “Quick Disconnect” fittings for launch vehicles.
  • Second Place: Rhizoform, LLC, which is developing a biodegradable foam derived from fungi for use in shipping seafood. (Pictured: Philippe Amstislavski holds a sample of a shipping container insulated with biodegradable mushroom tissue.)
  • Third Place: Aquagga Inc. is developing cost-effective methods of cleaning and desalinating industrial effluents.
  • Fourth PlaceAlon Winston Innovations is developing a new type of machine learning algorithm for use in advanced AI and robotics.
  • Fifth Place: GRAYSTAR Pacific Seafood, Ltd. provides technical services in all aspects of fisheries.

EPSCoR videos and highlights

We've been busy producing videos and PDF highlights about the Fire and Ice project. Recent videos include an absorbing animated introduction to hyperspectral remote sensing (source of the image to the left); a sampler of some of our drone footage of this summer's fieldwork; and timelapse video of Grewingk Glacier Lake and the Jakalof River produced by our Coastal Margins "Stream Team."

We've also produced our first PDF highlight from the Fire and ice project, about some first collaborative steps toward stream monitoring. Many thanks to Molly Tankersley of the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center for the text and photos.

December 2019 newsletter available

The latest edition of the Alaska NSF newsletter is now available as a PDF and on Issuu. Features in this edition include an article on Fairbanks Startup Weekend, details about Alaska's three recent EPSCoR Track-4 awardees, and submission information for the NSF's Navigating the New Arctic solicitation.

This marks the first online-only edition of our newsletter. In keeping with the format, our newsletters will now be shorter and more frequent: we'll publish a 2-4 page edition every 1-2 months.

NSF solicits "Track-2" proposals

The National Science Foundation has released a solicitation for its 2020 “Track-2 Focused EPSCoR Collaborations” awards. Track-2 awards fund large research projects that span more than one of the 28 EPSCoR states and territories. Research proposals this year must address the topic of “Harnessing Big Data to solve problems of national importance.”

Up to $1.5 million a year for up to four years are available to projects that include 3 or more EPSCoR jurisdictions, while up to $1 million a year is available for projects that include two jurisdictions.

Each main UA campus can serve as lead for only one proposal, and an investigator may serve as Principal Investigator or Co-PI on only one Track-2 award at any given time. UAA researchers interested in applying should contact Dr. Aaron Dotson, UAS researchers should contact Dr. Thomas Thornton and UAF researchers should consult Dr. Larry Hinzman. UA researchers are also encouraged to serve as Co-PI’s on projects at other jurisdictions. Letters of intent are due to the NSF by December 20, and full proposals are due January 24, 2020.

Southcentral Timelapse Videos

Last summer, researchers from the Fire and Ice "Stream Team" placed timelapse cameras at Grewingk Glacier Lake and along the Jakalof River, as part of their research into the impacts of glacial melt and other climate-induced changes to waterways along the Gulf of Alaska. We've condensed the footage from those cameras into a pair of videos, both of which (Grewingk and Jakalof) are now viewable online. The footage provides an interesting glimpse into both short-term (i.e. weather) and medium-term (water levels, tides, iceberg motion) changes in these two watersheds.

Boreal Fires infographic

If you attended the All Hands Meeting you probably got a look at the great new infographic describing Boreal Fires research, designed by UAF graduate student Megan Perra. The graphic is available here as both a PDF and JPEG, and if you want a hard copy just stop by 202 WRRB on the UAF West Ridge. There are also a few available at UAA from Courtney Breest.


Prakash, McCabe, Sesko presentations available online


Three recent EPSCoR-sponsored presentations have been posted online. First, the opening presentation from an Oct. 4 Mentoring Workshop conducted by UAF Provost Anupma Prakash is viewable on the EPSCoR YouTube channel.

Second, F&I graduate student Katie McCabe's Oct. 16 talk, "Intertidal community structure and drivers actross a glacial gradient," is viewable on Zoom.

Third, Amanda Sesko's September 10 lecture, "Stereotyping and stereotype threat effects on STEM performance and evaluation," is now available for viewing online. Sesko's talk presents research on the effects of stereotypes in STEM for women and racial minorities in the classroom and the workplace, with a focus on methods for reducing preformance impairments through processes such as self-affirmation.

UAF researcher receives EPSCoR "Track-2" award

Hyunju Connor, an Assistant Professor with the UAF College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and the Geophysical Institute, has received a $1.94 million "Track-2" award from the national NSF EPSCoR program.

The four-year award will fund Connor to collaborate with researchers at the University of New Hampshire to study geomagnetically induced currents, which are caused by geomagnetic disturbances during space weather events and which can produce power outages, train system failures, and pipeline corrosion. The research team will apply machine learning techniques to over two decades of space- and ground-based observations and develop two prediction models for geomagnetic disturbances and risk of geomagnetically induced currents, which will be provided to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center. The project will also incorporate data from the Space Weather Underground (SWUG) program, in which high school and undergraduate students build and deploy magnetometers, measure geomagnetic disturbances, and analyze the data.

For more information

The Fire and Ice Strategic Plan describes the goals of the project and year-by-year plans to reach them.

For more information on Alaska NSF EPSCoR in general, this poster gives an overview of the history of the organization in Alaska.

The EPSCoR data portal gives access to datasets generated by or related to Alaska NSF EPSCoR research.

The Alaska Science and Technology Plan, which prioritizes the state's S&T activities, was crafted with extensive EPSCoR input. The plan was written by the Alaska State Committee for Research, a panel of academic, political and business leaders charged with overseeing Alaska EPSCoR and advising on the state's research enterprise.


EPSCoR acknowledgment and logos

By our grant terms, any person receiving benefit from Alaska NSF EPSCoR must acknowledge it in any publications, presentations, websites, newsletters, dissertations, theses, etc. that result from Alaska NSF EPSCoR support.

For work supported by the Fire and Ice award (2018-2023), please use the following language: "This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under award #OIA-1753748 and by the State of Alaska."

For work supported by the Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments (ACE) award (2012-2018), please use the following language: "This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under award #OIA-1208927 and by the State of Alaska."

Alaska NSF EPSCoR logos for use in posters and other presentations are available here as EPS, JPEG and TIFF files. We also have a Fire and Ice logo; Please use this in addition to, or as an alternative to, the EPSCoR logo on posters, presentations, etc. The logo is available with border lettering in PNG and TIFF formats, and also without the border lettering as a PNG or TIFF.

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