Spotlight on Research


Sam Herreid: "First estimates of glacier melt rate reduction from rock debris cover for all Alaskan glaciers"

Sam Herried is an undergraduate student in the Geology and Geophysics program at UAF. Sam’s research focuses on modeling glacial melting and the effect of debris-cover on melting. The aim of his research is "to develop and compare methods that could ultimately resolve the glacier melt regime under debris-cover on a regional scale." His team gathered data from on-site glacial sensors as a control for comparison with data collected using an unmanned aerial vehicle. The goals of the project were to devise a new method for monitoring surface temperature of glaciers, provide the first estimate for glacial melt for the Cantwell Glacier in the Delta Mountains, and to write a peer-reviewed journal publication on the findings. Sam and his team were able to develop a regional-scale model to solve for debris thickness and glacial melt suppression.

In the summer of 2013 Sam was invited to study and collaborate in Zurich, Switzerland, with Dr. Francesca Pellicciotti, one of few glaciologists who specializes in debris-covered glacial melt modeling.

Sam gave an oral presentation to the AGU (American Geophysical Union) in December 2013 in San Francisco, CA. In April 2014 hepresented his research poster at "Posters on the Hill" for the US Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. He was one of 60 presenters (chosen in a nation-wide competition of 600) at this annual event hosted by the Council on Undergraduate Research. Sam was the first UAF student to present.

Sam’s undergraduate research has been conducted with mentorship and support of Dr Anthony Arendt and other faculty in the Geophysical Institute, and with funding from URSA.


Ian Wilkinson: "Spheres of Influence"

Ceramics student Ian Wilkinson created "Spheres of Influence" for his bachelor of fine arts senior thesis show in April 2013. His installation demonstrated food resource inequality throughout the world. He said, "Why don't I use my project to demonstrate that you can do something more meaningful with your art than just showing it off?"

The project inovolved 1,200 clay bowls, all the same height. They were laid out in tight rows and each bowl contained a few grains of rice or no rice at all; the bowls represented people with few food resources. A large piece of plexiglas was laid on top of the bowls. The plexiglass held five enormous pots, overflowing with rice, representing the low percentage of people with an over abundance of resources. Ian said his goal was to make a "tier system of economic inequality where the less fortunate population below can't get past this ceiling, which is a glass floor to the privileged few above."

One wall of the gallery held a photographic exhibition of empty bowls held by people with their bellies exposed; the people were all shapes, colors, sizes and ages. "Spheres of Influence" was intended to raise awareness of the hunger issue in the world and in the Fairbanks Community. Ian donated the 1,200 bowls to the Fairbanks Community Food Bank for their "Empty Bowls Sale." Within an hour, all the bowls sold for $15 each, raising $18,000 for the Food Bank.

Ian's creative project was supported by his mentor Dr. James Brashear of the Art Deparment and funding from URSA.