From Radford to Alaska

Nolan McGrady, Jamal Bowman and Jake Clary get ready to collect data with the microclimate sled in Utqiagvik, Alaska.

After a voyage of more than 3,500 miles, Radford University students arrive in Alaska to brave chilling temperatures and shivery arctic winds, all in the name of research.

Throughout the course of the trip, the team will study Arctic sea ice first-hand, living and working in a remote location with no connecting roads and an average temperature of -6 degrees Fahrenheit. They will use equipment the students design and build themselves during the Fall and Spring seminar courses to collect information about the Arctic environment, and answer questions from past research. 

While this research expedition is different from past visits, it will build upon previous ice trips, while incorporating some of the same equipment in new ways that have never been tried before. 

The research conducted has implications beyond the Arctic with the potential to contribute to further understanding of our global climate and the future of climate change. Radford University researchers will contribute directly to developing methodologies for future studies of the Earth's thermal balance.  

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With all the research happening, the student researchers and their instructor Dr. Rhett Herman took a moment for a little fun. From left, Rhett Herman, Jordan Eagle, Jake Clary, Sam Mogen, Jamal Bowman, Ross Robertson, Katie Mankowski, Rudy Soltesz, Krista Stith, Abdullah Zulfiqar and Nolan McGrady show how "warm" it can get in Utqiagvik, Alaska.

Beyond the Classroom

Beyond the scientific research, the trip exposes students to Inupiat and Alaskan culture.

  • Breakfast and lunch will be provided from the Alaska Commercial Co., or A/C, which is the only grocery store in Utqiagvik. Dinner is provided by the Ilisagvik College cafeteria, which is famously known for its traditional, local fare.  

  • Researchers will visit the Iñupiat Heritage Center, where they will learn about the history of the Iñupiat people, who have inhabited Utqiagvik for thousands of years.

  • Researchers will experience the Northern Lights and arctic wildlife right outside the lab.

The Alaska research trip is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for everyone. As the students go outside of the classroom and contribute to scientific research they know that they are taking part in an experience that will help guide future Radford University student researchers and could even have an enduring impact on the climate of our world. For a first-hand account, click through photo galleries from past trips