Dr. Jeffrey Welker, director of the Environment and Natural Resources Institute (ENRI) and professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, was recently awarded the highly prestigious Fulbright U.S. Arctic Chair in Norway.
The Fulbright Arctic Chair is part of the Fulbright Distinguished Chairs Programs, which are viewed as among the most prestigious appointments in the Fulbright Scholar Program–across the nation and globally.
The Fulbright Arctic Chairs program in Norway and the United States officially began during the 2010-11 academic year. Thanks to a generous grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this four-year pilot initiative is intended to promote transatlantic mobility in the increasingly high-profile field of Arctic Sciences.
Dr. Welker will be based at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), about 500 miles north of mainland Norway. UNIS is the world’s northernmost institution for higher education and research, and offers courses at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level in Arctic Biology, Arctic Geology, Arctic Geophysics and Arctic Technology.
During the course of his sabbatical from August 2012-April 2013, Dr. Welker will undertake a host of winter ecology studies on sources and ages of respired CO2 using 14C techniques under ambient and long-term deeper snow (snow-fence experiment). In addition, he will study the effects of Svalbard reindeer on winter C cycling using a set of long-term grazing exclosures.
Besides the research facets of his study, Dr.Welker will lead a Pan Arctic synthesis of International Polar Year and will work with directors of all major international Arctic institutes, includingScott Polar, Bird Polar, Alfred Wagner Institute, NPI, INSTAAR, CIRES, Woods Hole, IAB and others.
In Dr. Welker’s absence, the UAA College of Arts and Sciences will appoint an interim director of ENRI until his return in fall 2013.
“This award is an acknowledgement of research excellence across the entire University of Alaska community,” says Welker. “I am proud that, as an Alaskan, I can deliver this prestigious level of recognition to our campus and our state.”