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Category: Highlights

2023 REU Program Awards

The NGA LTER REU program has selected our 2023 cohort. We are excited to host six undergraduate students this summer at UAF. They will be in Fairbanks from June to August and will have the opportunity to participate in our summer research expedition onboard the R/V Kilo Moana working on individual projects related to various forcings affecting the ecology of the Northern Gulf of Alaska.

Name Institution Mentor
Kaleigh Ballantine Oregon State University Seth Danielson
Cara Roberts University of Alaska Fairbanks Jenn Questel
Eris Trout Grinnell College Gwenn Hennon
Abigail Van Pelt Mercer University Ana Aguilar-Islas
Xavier Warren University of California Santa Cruz Tom Kelly
Alexia Wolff Old Dominion University Russ Hopcroft

Alaska Marine Science Symposium Student Awards

The NGA LTER program is thrilled to have two student poster award winners at the 2023 Alaska Marine Science Symposium! Megan Brauner, UAF PhD student, and Emily Stidham, UAF MS Student, were both awarded for their presentations. Megan presented her poster Co-occurrence networks of marine microbes in the Northern Gulf of Alaska, while Emily presented Two decades of observations on pelagic tunicates and pelagic snails in the Northern Gulf of Alaska (NGA). We are proud of all of our students and their contributions. They are truly inspiring, and we are lucky to have them.

Photo downloaded from UAF CFOS Twitter
Photo downloaded from UAF CFOS Twitter

Three Minute Thesis Accolades

Congratulations to NGA graduate student, Emily Stidham! Emily won both Second Place and Most Improved Speaker Award in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Graduate School’s Three Minute Thesis competition with her presentation Chasing the Carbon. Well done, Emily!

Photo downloaded from UAF Graduate School and Interdisciplinary Studies
Photo downloaded from UAF Graduate School and Interdisciplinary Studies


2022 Field Season Comes to a Close

Charles Cousins and Hannah Kepner work on the ISIIS-DPI system on the deck of the R/V Sikuliaq before the start of the spring cruise.

That’s a wrap on the 2022 NGA LTER field season! In late April the season started with a chilly expedition aboard the R/V Sikuliaq. Although storms battered our efforts, the weather cooperated enough for us to complete all of our sampling lines, as well as deployment of the Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem Observatory moorings. These moorings allow for collection of in-situ data.



Sierra, Ana and Emily
Sierra Lloyd, Ana Aguilar-Islas and Emily Ortega sampled water chemistry parameters during the summer cruise. Photo courtesy of Emily Ortega.

The summer Sikuliaq cruise forged ahead, despite weather and COVID challenges. Scientists expanded upon regular grid sampling by conducting more in-depth examinations of the role of the Copper River’s freshwater input to the NGA. This included small-boat operations around the mouth of the Copper River.


The fall expedition aboard the R/V Tiglax began right on schedule. Luckily this was immediately after a major storm event passed through the Gulf. The science team was able to keep on pace, and completed all sampling along the Seward Line and into Prince William Sound.

Rainbow over the Gulf of Alaska, captured from the stern of the R/V Tiglax.

Many fall cruise participants departed straight from the ship to meet colleagues at the 2022 LTER All Scientists’ Meeting. The meeting was held September 19-23 in Asilomar, CA. After a long time apart, it was great to join together with members from other LTER network sites.

Our NGA LTER team will gather again in Fairbanks in December. The goal will be to share recent findings, and plan ahead for 2023 and beyond.

New Funding for PhytoCLAS (Culture, Language, Art, and Science)

Katie Gavenus, our Education and Outreach Coordinator, has been successful in securing funding for a new project titled PhytoCLAS (Culture, Language, Art, and Science). This is a North Pacific Research Board funded project learning about phytoplankton in the Gulf of Alaska through culture, language, art, and science. There are two complementary components to this project: (1) working with local language speakers to highlight or develop local Native words for plankton and (2) creating opportunities for youth in coastal communities around the Northern Gulf of Alaska to learn about phytoplankton through outdoor sampling, microscope labs, art, presentations, and language.

We are looking forward to working with a variety of partners on this project, including the Alutiiq Museum and Archaeological Repository and Chugachmiut Heritage Preservation Program, as well as school districts, youth groups, and informal learning programs from Kodiak Island to Cordova!

Student Interviews Describe NGA LTER Science

We’ve posted a new video in the NGA LTER YouTube channel. In it, some of our graduate students (and one post-doc) describe what inspires them about working on NGA LTER science. Through these student interviews, you get glimpses of our fieldwork and what makes life aboard R/V Sikuliaq so special.

Michele Hoffman Trotter and her team collected these interviews while sailing on our Summer 2021 Sikuliaq cruise. They were also able to film the nets, instruments, and water samples that we use to investigate the NGA ecosystem. We played the video for our Site Reviewers in August, and now you get to see it too. Enjoy!

NGA LTER Women in Oceanography Featured in Network Article

Megan O'Hara
NGA LTER graduate student Megan O’Hara.

Western Washington University graduate student Megan O’Hara wrote an article for the LTER Communication Network, which was featured in November’s LTER Network News. The article Women in Oceanography: Highly Accomplished but Still Underrepresented features the NGA LTER‘s own Suzanne Strom, Kelley Bright and Ana Aguilar-Islas.

Megan is a master’s student studying phytoplankton in the NGA. Her thesis is titled “Cryptophytes in the Northern Gulf of Alaska: an analysis of distribution and regulation of mixotrophy.”

Link to the article.

Article my Megan O'Hara
LTER Network Communications.