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 is commencing "Fire and Ice," a five-year project to study climate-driven changes to Alaskan wildfire regimes and coastal ecosystems. The organization is also concluding a six-year project entitled "Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments (ACE)," which examines the mechanisms by which communities adapt to environmental and social change. For more information on ACE please visit our Program Structure section or see the project's Strategic Plan, Midcourse Report or newsletters. If you're looking for project data or related data please visit our data portal. We've also created a small poster that tracks the timeline and structure of NSF EPSCoR in Alaska. 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.

Three UAF researchers receive EPSCoR awards

Benowitz, Collins, and Tape

Three UAF researchers have received individual NSF EPSCoR "Track-4" awards, which enable scientists to collaborate with major research centers to continue their work.

Jeff 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 environments of samples and the sensitivity and precision of instruments contribute to uncertainties in determining the age of young volcanic rocks, and enable the development of new methods to more accurately date the rocks.

R. Eric Collins, an Assistant Professor with the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, received $187,301 for his proposal “Advancing Machine Learning in Biological Oceanography through Interdisciplinary Collaborations.” Collins and a graduate student will travel to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts to use machine learning to predict distributions of Arctic marine microbes and their use and transformations of metals. They’ll then use this knowledge to design methods for adaptive biological sampling using flow-through systems and ocean profilers.

Ken Tape, an Associate Professor with the Geophysical Institute, received $200,382 for his proposal, “Predicting Beaver Colonization of the Arctic and Creation of Tundra Stream Oases.” Tape and a postdoctoral researcher will spend six months at Northern Arizona University working with experts in satellite image analysis to further his research into the expansion of beaver habitat into arctic tundra.

New Letter from the PI available

Alaska NSF EPSCoR PI Anupma Prakash has sent out a "Letter from the PI" for October, touching on the Fire and Ice project and EPSCoR Track-4 awards.

NSF looking for research ideas

The National Science Foundation is holding a contest to solicit ideas for its long-term research goals.  
Entrants to the "NSF 2026 Idea Machine" competition will submit “grand challenge” questions for future NSF research, first in written form and later (if they make the semifinal round) via video pitches. The public will be invited to comment on the entries, and the final dozen will be interviewed by a blue-ribbon panel before NSF leaders pick 2-4 winners.
Authors of winning entries will receive cash prizes and public recognition, and the NSF will use winning entry ideas to identify future funding opportunities – within existing programs or by developing new ones. 
The NSF is attempting to reach out beyond the traditional research community with the contest and hopes to attract entries from industry, foundations, amateurs, professionals, and anyone with an interest in the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.
Written entries are due October 26. Check out the contest website for more information.

Veazey named to INSciTS Board

EPSCoR Project Administrator/Associate Project Director Pips Veazey has been selected to serve on the board of directors of INSciTS, the International Network for the Science of Team Science. The newly-formed organization is the result of 10 years of meetings and its goal is to "create and facilitate a high-impact community that develops and disseminates an evidence-base to support team science and shapes how research is conducted to solve complex problems." Veazey will serve a three-year term on the 12-member board.

Vis Space

Our decision-making and visualization space on the UAF West Ridge is getting a new, simple moniker: Vis Space. The space will still offer all of the same capabilities and possibilities as it did before, just under a new name.

Green, Aggarwal receive NSF CAREER awards

Two EPSCoR-affiliated faculty have recently received prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER awards.

UAF Assistant Professor of Graduate Education Carie Green (pictured) will receive $591,600 from the NSF for a five-year project entitled “A longitudinal study of the emotional and behavioral processes of Environmental Identity Development among rural and non-rural Alaskan children.” Green's research into environmental identity development in young children was supported by EPSCoR, both through direct support of an "Engaging Young Children as Active Researchers" project on the UAF campus and an Alaska Native Engagement Grant to study EID in the village of Unalakleet.

UAF Assistant Professor of Engineering (and Alaska EPSCoR faculty hire) Srijan Aggarwal received $508,000 for his proposal, "Fundamental Investigation of Biofilm Mechanical Properties in Drinking Water Distribution Systems." Aggarwal will research how bacteria form biofilms inside of drinking water pipes, how strong these films are, and how easily they can become detached from the pipe surfaces. This research will be used to develop strategies to remove biofilms to help ensure safe drinking water supplies.

NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards recognize early-career faculty who have a strong potential to show leadership in their field by integrating education and research.

Fire and Ice is a go!

The National Science Foundation has announced a 5-year, $20 million award to fund the next phase of Alaska NSF EPSCoR research.

The award will support a five-year research project entitled “Fire and Ice: Navigating Variability in Boreal Wildfire Regimes and Subarctic Coastal Ecosystems (F&I).” F&I researchers will employ remote sensing, fieldwork, lab experiments, and modeling to study two Alaskan regions undergoing climate-driven changes: the boreal forest, which is experiencing changes to wildfire regimes, and the Gulf of Alaska, where changing physical and chemical conditions are impacting nearshore marine ecosystems and organisms. The project will involve more than 30 faculty members located across the three main UA campuses, as well as five new faculty hires, six postdoc hires, 44 graduate and 45 undergraduate research assistantships. Researchers in the study come from a variety of disciplines across the physical, biological and social sciences.

F&I consists of two major research components, a Boreal Fires group and a Coastal Margins group. Boreal Fires researchers will identify large-scale climate drivers relevant to fire weather; use hyperspectral remote sensing to better map and measure fuel condition and active fire behavior; and conduct research into the economics of fire management and into impacts of fire on subsistence communities. Coastal Margins researchers will assess impacts of large-scale ocean drivers on the nearshore marine environment; establish how the composition and productivity of nearshore biological communities vary across a spectrum of glacial and non-glacial systems; determine how organisms’ physiological responses to physical drivers vary along these gradients; and study fishers’ and institutions’ responses to changes in availability of key marine species. In addition to research efforts, a Diversity, Education and Workforce Development (DEW) component will partner with research teams to involve more than 1,500 Alaskans in Fire and Ice activities, including K-12 out-of-school programs and teacher workshops; scientific expeditions for high-school girls; and UA mentoring, courses and trainings. DEW will also conduct research into science identity formation in first-generation college students, who will be a focus of F&I diversity efforts, along with women and Alaska Natives.

UAF Provost and current Alaska NSF EPSCoR Principal Investigator Anupma Prakash will serve as PI. Co-Principal Investigators for the award are Uma Bhatt, chair of Atmospheric Sciences at the UAF Geophysical Institute, who will co-lead the Boreal Fires group; Brenda Konar, Associate Dean of Research and Administration at the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, who will co-lead the Coastal Margins group; LeeAnn Munk, Professor of Geological Sciences at UAA; and Allison Bidlack, Director of the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center at UAS. Pips Veazey of UAF will serve as Associate Project Director. UAF Assistant Professor of Wildlife Biology Todd Brinkman and UAF (Juneau) Associate Professor of Fisheries Anne Beaudreau will serve as the other co-leads for the Boreal Fires and Coastal Margins teams.

The award is one of seven EPSCoR Track-1 awards recently announced by the NSF. The award period will began October 1.

NSF releases "Track-2" solicitation

The National Science Foundation EPSCoR program has released a solicitation for proposals for “Track-2” collaborative research projects. Proposals must include Co-PIs from at least two of the 26 EPSCoR states and territories (see map, but ignore New Mexico, which is newly ineligible), and must be on the topic of “Harnessing Big Data to solve problems of national importance.”

Proposals are for up to four years and up to a total of $1 million a year for awards shared between two EPSCoR jurisdictions, and up to $1.5 million a year for awards shared between three or more jurisdictions. Letters of intent are due November 26 and full proposals due January 25, 2019. 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. George Kamberov, 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. If you’re looking for collaborators, our friends at South Carolina EPSCoR have created an online searchable spreadsheet tool that enables EPSCoR researchers to find potential collaborators by location, topic, research keywords and more.

Northern Test Case presentations available

On April 9-10, 2018, a group of Alaska NSF EPSCoR Northern Test Case researchers traveled to the village of Nuiqsut to discuss research findings with local residents. Eight presentations from that meeting are now available as PDFs. We've also posted PDFs of three more presentations from an earlier meeting, held in Fairbanks June 5-6, 2017.

Storymap of North Slope soundscapes research

In 2016, EPSCoR grad student Taylor Stinchcomb and her advisor, Todd Brinkman, set up 20 sound recorders along the Colville River on the North Slope in order to monitor and analyze aircraft noise, which may have an impact on caribou populations and hunting practices. She's compiled the research into an excellent Storymap, which describes both methodology and results.

EPSCoR videos and PDFs

Still from Stakeholder Engagement video

Alaska EPSCoR's YouTube site includes links to multiple recent videos from the ACE project. First is a video about stakeholder engagement activities in all three test cases. Next is a virtual flyover of the Kenai Peninsula, including imagery from the 1950's, 1980's and the present, put together by EPSCoR faculty Frank Witmer and UAA Planetarium head Omega Smith. We also now host sound signatures of planes flying over the North Slope, courtesy of a Northern Test Case research project by UAF MS student Taylor Stinchcomb.

We have also published a number of new PDF highlights about ACE research and outreach on this site.

For more information

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

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

For more information on the Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments (ACE) project in particular, please visit the below links:

The Strategic Plan outlines Alaska EPSCoR's goals and methods for the project, which runs from 2012-18.

The Midcourse Report highlights the accomplishments and impacts of the first three years of the current research project.


EPSCoR acknowledgement 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 the Fire and Ice project (2018-2023), please use the following language: "Acknowledgement to (or "Support from") Alaska EPSCoR NSF award #OIA-1757348 and the state of Alaska."

For the ACE project (2012-2018), please use the following language: "Acknowledgement to (or "Support from") Alaska EPSCoR NSF award #OIA-1208927 and the state of Alaska."

EPSCoR logos for use in posters and other presentations are available here as EPS, JPEG and TIFF files.

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