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Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Scientists at the Geophysical Institute study geophysical processes in action from the center of Earth to the surface of the sun and beyond. The Institute turns data and observations into information useful for research, state and national needs. Much of this research is performed by Institute faculty, staff and students as part of their regular work.

An Act of Congress established the Geophysical Institute in 1946. Since that time, the Institute has earned an international reputation for studying Earth and its physical environments at high latitudes and is now diversified into seven major research units. Institute faculty and research staff serve on a number of advisory boards providing scientific evaluation and ideas for a wide range of concerns.

At the Geophysical Institute, research and education proceed hand-in-hand. Opportunities abound for undergraduate and graduate research with our renowned scientists.

Aeryon Scout was used in late July 2011 in a BP-funded demonstration on oil spill response in Prince William Sound. Courtesy of Greg WalkerEyal Saiet’s job is looking for the sweet spot—that connection between machine and science that makes sense. For instance, Saiet is thinking of flying an unmanned aircraft through the blow of a surfacing bowhead whale to collect mucus samples. The samples will tell biologists the health, sex and fertility of the migrating behemoth returning to Alaska waters.

 

Obviously, the craft would be launched from a boat, but he ponders how the mucus should be collected. A pop-open vial or somehow scraped off the aircraft, he mulls. And what responsibilities will the humans involved have? So many pieces to put together with a potentially marvelous payout.

 

“So you have an aircraft,” said Saiet, a researcher at the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Integration at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “What can you do with it? What story can you tell now that you couldn’t before?”

 

For the full story visit http://gi.alaska.edu/node/1810

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