2023 Faculty Initiative Fund Awardees

PI: Dr. Matthew Wooller, Director, Alaska Stable Isotope Facility (ASIF), UAF
Collaborator: Dr. Patrick Druckenmiller, Director, UAMN, UAF.
Collaborators from all UA campuses: UAS: Casey Bain; Ketchikan and Sitka Campus: Carin Silkaitis; Bristol Bay Campus: Eric Goddard; Chukchi Campus: Minnie Naylor, Angela Nanouk
and Dana Orton; CTC: Michelle Stalder; Interior Campus: Julie Biddle and Robin Brooks; Kuskokwim Campus: Jessica Glore; Northwest Campus: Barb Amorok, Dr. Jackie Hrabok, Dr.
Claudia Ihl; UAA: Dr. Pat Tomoco and Dr. Khrys Duddleston; Kenai Peninsula College: Dr. Adam Dunstan; Kachemak Bay Campus: Jeff Meyers; Kodiak College: Linda Himelbloom; Matsu College: Dr. Jeremy Nettleton and Dr. Kathleen Nevis; Prince William Sound College: Dr. Dennis Humpfrey; UAF: Dr. Richard Collins and Dr. Joshua Reuther.

We propose launching “Mammoth in the Classroom!” as an innovative education and basic research project aiming to connect students, staff and faculty from across all UA campuses. An overarching project goal is to promote inter-university/college collaborations across UA by connecting the UA community
with mammoth specimens from the University of Alaska Museum of the North (UAMN) as an education tool. This is an innovative educational component and an outgrowth of UAF’s “Adopt a Mammoth” project, launched in the Fall of 2022, with its overarching and long-term goal of radiocarbon dating and sequencing the ancient DNA of all the ~1500 Alaska mammoth fossils at UAMN. Our proposal’s scientific rationale stems from cutting-edge findings reported last year in high profile research journals showing late surviving (<10,000 years old) mammoths from mainland parts of the Arctic. The aim of the “Adopt a Mammoth” project is to, through philanthropic fund raising, radiocarbon date all the mammoth
fossils from mainland Alaska and identify the geologically youngest mammoth fossil. Our “Mammoth in the classroom!” project will contribute to the “Adopt a Mammoth” project’s long-term goal by providing additional radiocarbon dates from a suite of mammoth fossils ‘adopted’ for each UA campus. Goal 1 of “Mammoth in the Classroom!” is to ‘adopt’ five mammoth fossils for each of the 16 campuses (80 specimens in total) across the entire UA system. “Adoption” involves Wooller sampling these fossils housed at UAMN, in collaboration with Druckenmiller. The samples will be radiocarbon dated and sequenced for their ancient DNA. Goal 2 is for Wooller to work with partners at each UA campus (listed
above) to connect fossils and the cutting-edge research results stemming from them with classrooms, students, staff and faculty on each campus. The data and information from at least four of these ‘adopted’ specimens for each campus will be used as examples in classes. The ‘adoption’ of the fifth specimen will be available for additional education and outreach activities, for example to serve as student awards. No physical specimen will be owned by an adopter; the term “adoption” will represent the promotion of a connection with a particular specimen and the information on that specimen, including the radiocarbon date. During the project, Dr. Wooller will be available to the campus partners through Zoom, connecting
with classrooms and students across UA to make presentations using the mammoth project as a research example. Dr. Wooller will also present in K-12 classrooms, facilitated by the established and listed community partners/collaborators. Our project goals are aimed at aligning with the UA mission by using our charismatic mammoth project to inspire learning, and to advance and disseminate knowledge through teaching, research, and public service.
Award $30,000

PI: Kitty Deal, PhD, CRC, Professor of Education, Kodiak, AK
CoPI: Olga Paniik Skinner, PhD, Assistant Professor, Alaska Indigenous Teacher Corps, UAF

Alaska is experiencing a dire teacher shortage and school districts are looking for solutions to grow their local education workforce. Traditional teacher training, culminating in a full-time, unpaid semester of student teaching, poses a significant hardship for education majors and often delays degree completion. The inter-university Alaska College of Education Consortium (ACEC) Subcommittee on Apprenticeships proposes establishing teacher preparation as a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) in the state of Alaska. This designation would allow school districts to employ paraprofessionals or long-term substitutes as teacher apprentices while the individuals also participate in a high-quality teacher education program in one of the UA Schools of Education. UA Education faculty and administrators will partner with select school districts, work collaboratively with the Alaska Department of Development and Early Development (AK DEED), and the Alaska Department of Labor (DOL) around the central goals to

• Begin the federally required application process to have student teaching designated as a Registered Apprenticeship Program in Alaska
• Engage school districts in development and implementation of a RAP for their local workforce
• Examine RAPs potential impacts to existing initial teacher certification programs, especially in meeting the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) standards

Award $26,090

PI: Sanjay Pyare, UAS Professor of Environmental Science
Co-PI: Kevin Maier UAS Professor of English Abstract

Alaska needs innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to addressing inequity in higher education attainment. To address this inequity, collaborative instructors need to reframe pedagogy to elevate rural and Indigenous intellectual capacity. Funding supports development of essential community partnerships and a 1-credit course to link urban UA faculty and students with underserved rural and indigenous students. This dual-enrollment, stacked 100- and 300- level Environmental Studies course will serve as a foundational component to a broader curricular pathway for higher education achievement and, perhaps equally important, to catalyze students to become leaders in their communities. Successful cultivations of community relationships robust enough to delivery this dual-enrollment class would mark a key near-term step toward this broader curricular goal.

Award $30,000

PI: Sunwoo Kim, PhD, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering Dept, UAF

Water electrolysis is one of the most convenient methods to produce hydrogen, an ideal energy carrier in a near future. It produces very high purity hydrogen and oxygen and only requires an aqueous electrolyte as long as the electricity is provided. However, major research challenges come from the fact that water
electrolysis does not convert 100% of the electric energy into hydrogen chemical energy. It is well known that the loss of efficiency is attributed to the overpotential associated with the hydrogen/oxygen evolution reactions at the electrodes and increased electrolyte ohmic resistance. In this research, the use of Micro-Porous Surface (MPS) electrodes is proposed to induce better reaction conditions, in which the overpotential and the ohmic resistance are minimized. This research effort will be focused on gas bubble dynamics at the MPS electrodes and the fabrication of a micro-scale, ordered structure on a solid substrate of typical electrode materials (e.g. nickel and nickel alloys). Based on comprehensive understanding of the mechanism of bubble nucleation, growth, and departure and its effect on the performance of the water electrolysis process, an optimum MPS electrode will be identified. The objectives will be achieved in the following steps. First, the anodizing technique will be used to prepare a micro-porous surface. With proper tuning of the process parameters (concentration of the electrolyte, temperature, applied voltage or
current, and process duration), self-ordered micro-pores can be generated on a metal substrate. Then a small-scale electrolytic cell will be built for experimental investigation of the prepared MPS samples. The test cell will allow for easily changing the test electrodes and a visual record of the surfaces in operation.
To evaluate the hydrogen generation performance, the gas generation rate, current density, and overpotential as well as the bubble behavior (nucleation density, radius of departure bubble, bubble frequency, and bubble coverage) will be measured and observed. Finally, an optimal design for MPS electrodes will be found. Throughout this research a collaborative research team will acquire fundamental knowledge and techniques in hydrogen production and will create synergy for improving UAA and UAF
engineering programs and inducing more collaborative research between the two universities. The research findings from this project will be disseminated to the public and private sectors in Alaska with
the help of Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) and Alaska Center for Innovation, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurship (ICE). The project will meet the UA mission by inspiring learning (in undergraduates on the project and dissemination in classes), advancing energy research useful to Alaska, and disseminating new knowledge in hydrogen generation technology to Alaskans.

Award $30,000

PI: UAF PIs: Yue Sun, Sean Dowgray, Sarah McConnell, Daniel Strawser
UAA Co-PI: Maria Williams

The goal of this proposed project is to revitalize and reintroduce our ethnomusicology course, Alaska Native Music (MUS F223X, cross-listed as ANS/ACNS F223X), so that it will offer our music majors,
minors, and other students a culturally congruent, in-depth and experiential examination of Alaska Native Music. Alaska Native Music (MUS F223X) is a GER course, and a requirement of our BM and BA music degrees. Unfortunately, for the past several years, it has not been offered due to UAF’s lack of an ethnomusicologist, and limited workload capacity. To achieve this goal, the main aim of this project is to work in collaboration with UAA to restructure and renew our UAF syllabus. Additional goals include working and collaborating with our UAF colleagues in Alaska Native Studies and Cross Cultural studies and in the future this could lead to personal and professional relationships with community members to ensure cultural congruence and provide students with opportunities to experience local cultural and musical activities.

Award $9,887

PI: David Cox, MSLIS, Assistant Professor and Technical Services Librarian, UAS
Co-PI: Genova Boyd, UAF Assistant Professor of Library Science

The University of Alaska Southeast and University of Alaska Fairbanks libraries aim to come together to acquire shareable Indigenous language resources which can be made searchable and
circulated through the Alaska Library Catalog (ALC). The Tier-II proposal is for the purchase of literacy works in the Ahtna, Gwich'in, Hän, Kaska, Tutchone, Tanacross, Tanana, and Tlingit Languages which are currently not cataloged or made searchable through library catalogs.
Funding will support the purchase and shipping of items to the UAS and UAF libraries. Librarians will catalog and process the works, and include searchable links as applicable. Records can then be made through the ALC for library users to access and request items at locations across the state. The project seeks to fill gaps in Indigenous language acquisitions, to increase awareness of the existence of these integral resources, and to make them widely available to patrons.

Award $10,000

PI: Glenn Wright, Associate Professor of Political Science, UAS
Co-PI: Michael Navarro, Assistant Professor of Marine Fisheries, UAS

Since 2019, the University of Alaska Southeast has delivered a unique interdisciplinary summer curriculum integrating Political Science and Oceanography and engaging students in a significant
expeditionary field experience. Students from the Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Humanities come to Juneau from Alaska and Outside, participate in interdisciplinary seminars in Political Ecology and Oceanography and complete a week-long field expedition during which they gather data on topics of interest in the natural and social sciences and produce a substantial research paper or presentation. This Faculty Innovation Fund proposal would provide for infrastructure improvements to enhance our Political Oceanography curriculum for Summer 2023 and future years. This proposal enhances a cost-effective approach to achieve student success through high-impact pedagogical practices, helps to develop world- class research through interdisciplinary collaboration, fosters an equitable approach to education and community relations and contributes to Alaska’s economic development by engaging students in applied research relevant to oceanography, fisheries science, mariculture and political economy.

Award $9,850

PI: Amber Worthington, PhD, Assistant Professor of Communication, UAA
Co-PI: Amy May, UAF

Addressing climate change requires people to both engage in individual actions (e.g., use less energy at home) and support governmental policies that reduce emissions. Researchers at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) are collaborating on a current pilot project that assesses 250 UAA students’ beliefs about responsibility and opportunities for solving climate change through a mixed methods online survey. The Faculty Initiative Fund will permit us to expand the pilot project to include a larger, more representative sample of Alaska undergraduate students by including participants at both UAA and UAF. This is especially important in light of research showing that different regions in Alaska are experiencing the effects of climate change in different ways (see Climate Change in Alaska, 2022)
The steps of this proposed project will be:
(1) assess the results of the current pilot project and revise the
mixed-methods online survey instrument as needed;
(2) recruit N=1000 students from introductory
communication courses at UAA and UAF to complete the revised survey; and
(3) analyze the results from this expanded project. The ultimate goal of this research, extending beyond the aims of the current proposal, will be to use the survey results to design strategic messages about climate change that will motivate individual behaviors and support for environmental policies among University of Alaska undergraduate students. Future work employing mixed methods will test the efficacy of these messages.
Our research project team for the currently underway pilot project consists of Amber Worthington (Assistant Professor of Communication, UAA), Timothy Hingerberger (Professor in the WWAMI School of Medical Education), Amy May (Assistant Professor of Communication, UAF), and two student research assistants at UAA. This proposed expanded project will include this original team and also expand to include two student research assistants from UAF.
The larger, more global goal of this research is to further the mission of our respective institutions. At UAF, our mission affirms our position as global leaders in climate change research; likewise, at UAA, our mission is to positively impact the communities we serve through innovative practices. With a focus on applied science and environmental communication research, inter-university collaboration, and student engagement, our request for funding meets the objectives of the AY23 Faculty Initiative Fund and furthers the collective work of our institutions.

Award $9,536

PI: Dr. Ingrid Diane Johnson (UAA Justice Center)
Dr. Rei Shimizu (UAA School of Social Work)

We are requesting UA Faculty Initiative Funds for a Tier II mini-project ($10,000) that involves organizing and hosting a 3-day symposium in April 2023 at the close of National Crime Victims' Rights Week titled “Voice! Acknowledgement! Power! Victims’ Rights and Restorative Justice.” The primary goal of the symposium is to raise awareness among victim service and advocacy leaders about how restorative justice creates justice for victims and their communities and to provide them with actionable steps that they can take to provide access to restorative justice opportunities. The secondary goal is to raise awareness about restorative justice in the UA and Alaska communities more broadly. Organizing this symposium is an interdisciplinary project between the UAA Justice Center and School of Social Work and is being organized in partnership with the Alaska Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (CDVSA). The goals of the symposium fit squarely within the UA mission to inspire learning and to advance and disseminate knowledge through teaching and public service, emphasizing the North and its diverse peoples. The major steps in organizing this symposium are setting an agenda of main events
(complete), securing the featured speaker (complete), securing funding, securing other speakers and panelists, securing space and other planning other logistical components, advertising the event and inviting guests, and, ultimately, hosting the symposium in April.

Award $10,000

PI: Sabine Siekmann, Associate Professor, Linguistics, UAF
Eve Ryan, UAF

Drs. Sabine Siekmann and Ève Ryan are proposing a Tier II project to write a teacher professional development grant in collaboration with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. This
proposal falls under categories 3 and 4 of the current FIF RFP.
The project will consist of
a) holding a 2-day meeting with school district representatives to jointly discuss professional development needs of Fairbanks teachers of English Learners, and
b) writing a grant for providing such professional development.

Award $9,859

PI: Jill Flanders Crosby, Department of Theatre and Dance

This project proposes a collaborative relationship between the UAA Department of Theatre and Dance, Momentum Dance Collective, Echo Bend Media, and the Anchorage Museum. We will foster program development, a vital culture of arts education, and promote community collaboration and performance joining forces to meet the needs of our respective organizations in times of dwindling budgets and artistic opportunities in performance and arts education.
Steps to complete project:
1. Work with Momentum artistic director Becky Kendall exploring how to maximize the educational and artistic development of the dance program in the Department of Theatre and Dance for spring semester 2023, and the efficacy of Momentum Dance Collective for the future.
2. Work to elevate community collaboration with Dan Lee of Echo Bend Media and other film production professionals associated with Echo Bend.
3. Work with Becky Kendall and Momentum Dance Collective and Echo Bend Media to collaboratively create a new work of Dance Film choreography.
4. Work with Becky Kendall and Momentum Dance Collective and Dan Lee of Echo Bend Media to ensure that the current dance minors and dance seeking students have access to artistic and pedagogical practices of Dance Film whether as performers, workshop participants, or as members of the crew working on the Dance Film.
5. Work collaboratively with the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center to showcase an innovative dance concert at the Anchorage Museum that re-defines dance in performance offered free to the
community during the Museum's First Friday event in April. The concert will include Dance Film and live dance and music performance spread across the museum space itself responding to gallery spaces and particular works of art.
6. Envision future steps to keep the collaboration active leading to Momentum Dance Collective as an Artist in Residence at UAA that ensures sustained growth, high impact practices, and continued
innovative community partnerships with media professionals and with the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.
7. Set the seeds to develop a long-term partnership where all entities can thrive.

Award $8,163

PI: John Harley, Assistant Research Professor, Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, Department
of Natural Sciences, UAS

The fjords of Glacier Bay National Park (GBNP) are a unique marine environment undergoing rapid change due to receding glaciers. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) of phytoplankton are known to produce toxins that accumulate in shellfish and can result in illness and death of humans and wildlife, yet very little is known about the history of these HABs in this critical marine area. Changing patterns of ocean temperature and salinity in GBNP are likely to change the patterns of HABs, but the remoteness of the
park inhibits a regular (i.e. weekly) monitoring program so traditional methods of phytoplankton collection or toxin measurement in mussels might miss the ephemeral bloom window. We propose that an important time-series of HAB occurrence in GBNP can be obtained with annual monitoring of shellfish toxins in butter clams (Saxidomus gigantea). Butter clams, a species harvested by humans, sea otters, and other wildlife can reach potentially lethal concentrations of toxins and retain toxins for months or even years, therefore providing an important spatial and temporal record of HAB occurrence even if the bloom window is missed. Here we propose to collect preliminary data to support long-term monitoring of HAB
events in GBNP by examining spatial and temporal patterns of toxins in butter clams. This research and future grant proposals using this preliminary data will feature undergraduate involvement at all levels of research and foster collaborative multi-disciplinary research in a natural laboratory in the backyard of the University of Alaska Southeast.

Award $9,834

PI: Zhi (Vicky) Tao, PhD, Assistant Professor of Logistics, College of Business & Public Policy University of Alaska Anchorage

The funding is for the sustainability project: A Grocery Chain Location Selection in Alaska Six Cities. It builds the intellectual capital of UA through basic and applied research and it is Tier 2 with a total budget of $9,922.
The research project investigates the location selection when grocery chain opens stores and expands its service in Alaska cities. The project is important especially considering the number of grocery stores in Alaska is much less than lower 48 and there is much opportunity for growth of grocery stores in Alasa. Six cities are selected as candidate cities in Alaska: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Barrow, Nome, Kodiak. Each city is from different regions geographically and has its unique characteristics. Which city the grocery chain will open its store among the six cities? This is one of the most important decision- making process for its business success since grocery store investment is significant, long term and not reverse. This research project established multiple criteria from sustainability perspective: these triple criteria can be categorized into three groups: economic performance, social performance and
environmental performance. The triple criteria are further divided into multiple sub-criteria and sub-sub-critera to evaluate the six alternative cities in Alaska. Based on all the criteria and its weight of
importance, the six candidate cities are ranked and the result provides insight to the management of grocery chain to find the ideal city in Alaska. The analytical model is applied among optimization approach to rank the cities in all criteria and identify the best city in Alaska for the location.

Award $9,922

PI: Megan Ossiander-Gobeille, Associate Professor of Mathematics in UAA’s department of Quantitative Studies.

Faculty from UAA, UAF, and UAS convene yearly for an Annual Statewide Entry-level Mathematics Summit. This event is where mathematics and statistics faculty across the 3 MAUs, including community campuses, meet to review curriculum, share research and innovative pedagogy, and discuss issues facing our students. The goal of this proposal is to secure funds for travel. The Summit will be held at UAF on May 12th, 2023. It has been held virtually since 2020, but there is eagerness to return to an in-person format. This is a Tier II request and falls under the category of both inter-university and inter-college collaboration.

Award $4,110

PI: Raghu Srinivasan, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Department Chair Mechanical Engineering, University of Alaska Anchorage

Corrosion is a significant problem and losses due to corrosion are estimated to cost the United States approximately 3 to 4% of its gross domestic product (GDP). One of the primary costs associated with effective corrosion integrity management is recruiting and training the highly-specialized engineers required to carry out this work. But there is a fundamental knowledge gap for the future workforce in corrosion due to various reasons. This project aims for the States of Alaska, through Universities’ summer camps, to take a more active role in introducing corrosion as a viable career opportunity to the community and help ensure the long-term sustainability of the corrosion workforce. PI Srinivasan is the current
instructor for the College of Engineering’s Summer Engineering Academy: Corrosion Chemistry. The main goal of this proposal is to develop corrosion camp materials for kids with unique educational needs with the help of community partners like the Anchorage School District (ASD) and the Special Education Service Agency (SESA). This community-engaged development of high-impact pedagogical practices will inspire, educate, and propel students from different backgrounds to sustained STEM learning through
high school and all the way up to graduate school.

Award $10,000

PI: Menghua Liu, Dept. of Geosciences, CNSM, UAF

Critical minerals are of vital importance to a nation including the United States in many aspects. The demands for critical minerals have increased rapidly. However, supplies for some critical minerals are very limited. Six critical minerals are selected from the top and near top of the list of critical minerals with the highest and higher criticality potential values for element partitioning experiments. The six critical mineral elements are: Yttrium, Gallium, Tungsten, Ruthenium, Antimony, and Germanium. Partitioning of highly siderophile elements (Platinum-group elements and Au) and some siderophile elements have been investigated in Fe-S and Fe-Ni-S systems mainly for the early history of the mantle of the earth and iron meteorites.
The proposed partitioning experiments of critical mineral elements will be in different system from above – Fe-S-O system. Partitioning of solid metal/oxide and partitioning of oxide/sulfide will be added and performed to understand the behavior of critical minerals in solid metal, oxide and sulfide. The control factor of oxygen, sulfur and temperature will be investigated. The partitioning date and control factors can be applied to related exploration, extraction and waste management.
This proposal is for seed fund. More experiments will be followed after this proposed project including high pressure experiments. A future plan is to establish an experimental laboratory of critical minerals to develop wide collaborative research and to attract graduate students to join force. It is one of the good ways to make UA to lead in critical minerals research.

Award $9,960

PI: Art Nash, Associate Professor
Sunwoo Kim, Ph.D., Associate Professor (Co-PI) UAF Mechanical Engineering Department

One of the major emphases among several granting agencies is addressing the food/water/energy nexus. In particular, there is a need to show how food production and water warming can occur with cost affordable heat. One way to increase food production is to lengthen the “shoulder” growing seasons of March-April and September-October. In northern climes, this requires staving off freezing temperatures at night which can retard growth at best and kill the plants’ productivity at worse. This Season Extending
Thermal Storage construction design effectively captures the passive solar heat at the top of a greenhouse and plows it below the root zone into thermal mass, which acts as a ‘heat battery’ to warm growing beds at night. To compound the effect, this design adds a thermal heat box that will increase more raw heat input. This system will help to add free heat to growers with minimal effort or costs.

Award $10,000