(Hannah Heimbuch/Dutch Harbor Fisherman, 13 April 2012) -- The fifth and largest ever Western Alaska Interdisciplinary Science Conference descended on Dillingham last month, bringing a host of experts and members of the curious public together to discuss Alaska's most pressing science issues.
"Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and food security were reoccurring themes at the conference," said Chet Chambers, who led a session on Sustainable Energy Programs and Projects at UAF Bristol Bay Campus. "We were very lucky to have Rich Seifert as our keynote speaker and as a presenter in a breakout session," Chambers said. Seifert is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and an expert on renewable energy and homebuilding in cold climates. "The Green Building session was jam packed, standing room only and featured several big names in energy efficient construction/green building." Those names included Seifert, as well as Tom Marsik and Lyle Axelarris. "All (of them) spoke about innovative residential projects in Alaska that focus on minimizing fossil fuel usage," Chambers said.
University of Washington Fisheries Professor and WAISC presenter Daniel Schindler called this year's conference the best he's been to in a long time. "The wide diversity of topics, ranging from the biology of whales, to links between climate change and human health, to insights from traditional ecological knowledge, was truly remarkable," Schindler said. "Equally impressive was the composition of the speakers and audience. It is rare to see such broad cross-section of people at a science conference. High school students, resource managers, politicians, academics, and Joe Public were all there — and engaged in question and answer." That diversity meets one of Dr. Todd Radenbaugh's primary goals for this year's conference. Radenbaugh is one of the event's main organizers, and a professor at UAF's Bristol Bay Campus.
When it was started five years ago, the conference filled a need for a forum in which to let different disciplines and approaches to science co-mingle, Radenbaugh said. It allows people who normally wouldn't talk to each other to communicate on important topics. Not just in the formality of presentation and question-answer periods, but in the informal free time surrounding the event.
Posted by Amanda Graham – 18 April 2012; 12:03:39 AM – Permalink
Tagged: Arctic, News, Public events and conferences