Speaker Biographies


Michael Brubaker

Cofounder of the Alaska Center for Climate and Health and the Local Environmental Observer Network (LEO), Mike Brubaker specializes in assessing public health conditions in rural communities. In particular he focuses on effects from environmental change. From 1998 to 2008 he was the community services director for the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, a regional tribal organization serving the Aleut People of Southwestern Alaska. Brubaker has worked for the statewide tribal health system since 2008. In his current work he supervises programs that assess health impacts and encourage safe, healthy, and sustainable communities.

Paula Cullenberg

Paula Cullenberg is director of Alaska Sea Grant and professor of fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. For the last decade she has led the statewide Marine Advisory Program, and served as their coastal community development specialist. She has held leadership positions at the North Pacific Fisheries Observer Training Center, Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, and Washington Sea Grant, and she is a commercial fisherman in the Bristol Bay setnet salmon fishery. Cullenberg has organized numerous workshops and conferences on fisheries topics in Alaska communities, bringing together residents and decision-makers. She lives in Anchorage.

Aimee M. Devaris

Aimee M. Devaris is the deputy director for the National Weather Service Alaska Region, where she has served as the acting director since December 2011. The NWS Alaska Region provides weather and water forecasts, warnings such as specialized alerts for volcanic ash and tsunami danger, and other information. Devaris is particularly interested in using community observations to improve forecasts and the communication of potential impacts during hazardous weather and water events.

Maryann Fidel

Maryann Fidel is project manager for CONAS (Community Observation Network for Adaptation and Security) at the Aleut International Association, a permanent participant of the Arctic Council. For the past four years she has worked with rural Bering Sea communities, in Alaska and the Russian Far East, on a community-based observation and monitoring network. Fidel holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree in environmental science from Alaska Pacific University. She has done research on the human-environment relationship and natural resource policy and decision making.

Henry Huntington

As senior officer at Pew Charitable Trusts, Henry Huntington leads the scientific work of Pew’s arctic conservation efforts in Alaska, Canada, and beyond. He is also involved in several research projects examining various aspects of human-environment interactions in the Arctic. He has worked extensively with communities around the Arctic, and is one of the founders and leaders of the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge in the Arctic (ELOKA), which provides data management and other support to community-based monitoring projects. Huntington lives in Eagle River, Alaska, with his wife and two sons.

Reggie Joule

Reggie Joule was born in Nome, Alaska, and raised in Kotzebue. He served as a state representative in the Alaska legislature from 1996 to 2012. Representing much of the Alaska Arctic, he chaired the Bush Caucus and was a member of the House Finance Committee. Joule also was chair of the Alaska Northern Waters Task Force, which examined the changing Arctic, and he currently serves as a commissioner on the Arctic Policy Commission for the State of Alaska and as a tribal representative on President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. In October 2012, Joule was elected to the office of Mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough, where one of his key initiatives is to build the borough’s science and research capacity.

Kathryn Kurtz

Kathryn Kurtz is the curriculum coordinator for the Anchorage School District’s Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. She began her career as a research biologist and later transitioned to teaching about research-based inquiry and civic participation in education. She taught for 10 years in a public school incorporating citizen science and community-based partnerships to make science meaningful for students. Kurtz has worked for several organizations as an educator, including the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Association of Village Council Presidents, Oregon Forestry Education Program, Washington Forest Protection Association, Alaska Pacific University, and University of Alaska Anchorage.

Molly McCammon

Molly McCammon is executive director of the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS), a coalition of government, academic, and private partners working to integrate ocean data and provide better information for users. She served for a decade as executive director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, administering the billion-dollar restoration fund. McCammon has also worked as a natural resource policy specialist for Alaska’s governor, the Alaska legislature, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. She is particularly interested how local observations may be collected and used to meet stakeholder needs throughout the state.

Heidi McCann

Heidi McCann is an associate scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center where she is the knowledge exchange coordinator on the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic project. She has years of experience collaborating with American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives with implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act legislation in museums. McCann is a member of the American Indian Studies Faculty group at the University of Colorado Boulder; she is a member of the CU Campus Native Alliance of Faculty and Staff; and she mentors for the Boulder Faculty Assembly Mentorship pilot program. She is a member of the Yavapai-Apache Nation and offers museum advice to the Yavapai-Apache Cultural Center.

Julia Parrish

Julia Parrish is a University of Washington professor of aquatic and fishery sciences and associate dean of the College of the Environment. In 1991 she founded a citizen-scientist organization to document what’s normal and what’s in flux on our coasts by counting seabird carcasses brought in on the tide. The Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, or COASST, has grown from 12 volunteers to a citizen force 850 strong, working from California to Alaska. Parrish was one of 12 “champions of change” invited to share their ideas on public engagement in science and science literacy in June 2013 at the White House.

Marilyn Sigman

Marilyn Sigman is the marine education specialist for Alaska Sea Grant, University of Alaska Fairbanks, and program manager for the Alaska Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE), which facilitates collaboration among Alaskan scientists, educators, and communities. She was previously the executive director for the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, in Homer, where she oversaw the development of Kachemak CoastWalk into a statewide program of local marine debris monitoring and cleanup programs supported by NOAA’s community-based marine debris grants program. Sigman also participated in the development of community involvement plans for the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council and the Environmental Monitoring Committee of the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Committee.

Raphaela Stimmelmayr

Since 2011, Dr. Raphaela Stimmelmayr has served as wildlife veterinarian and research biologist for the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. She is the onsite coordinator for the Alaska Pinniped Unusual Mortality Event. Throughout her career, her overarching research focus has targeted marine and terrestrial ecosystem health and wildlife disease ecology with an emphasis on the “One Medicine/Health” approach. She has worked on wildlife health issues in the Arctic, Subarctic, and Subtropics (Caribbean).

Fran Ulmer

Fran Ulmer is chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, a position she was appointed to by President Obama in 2011. Ulmer was chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage from 2007 to 2011, and she served as UAA’s distinguished visiting professor of public policy and director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research. Ulmer was an elected official for 18 years as the mayor of Juneau, an Alaska state representative, and lieutenant governor of Alaska. She was the first chair of the Alaska Coastal Policy Council and served for more than 10 years on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. She is a member of the Global Board of the Nature Conservancy and the National Parks Conservation Association board.

Bruce Wright

Bruce Wright is senior scientist for the Knik Tribal Council, Chilkat Environmental, and Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA). He has led the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) Project, which helps communities that harvest subsistence shellfish better respond to the health threat and minimize the risk of poisoning. He is the author of the books Alaska’s Predators: Their Ecology and Conservation and Alaska’s Great White Sharks. He lives in Anchorage.

Discussion leaders

Carolina Behe

Carolina Behe is the traditional knowledge/science advisor for the Inuit Circumpolar Council–Alaska (ICC-AK). She advises on topics that engage in both traditional knowledge and science, such as resource management and methods of conducting research and community engagement, and she serves as principal investigator on research projects. Behe has worked as a commercial fisher in Alaska and the South Pacific, a marine technician in Antarctica, and a researcher investigating food security and impact of climate change in the Yup’ik village of Alakanuk. Her current work focuses on the development of a food security assessment tool from an Inuit perspective. Behe is the ICC representative on the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna board.

Brad Benter

Brad Benter has been a wildlife biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska since 1990 and has worked with the Marking, Tagging and Reporting Program (MTRP) since 2003. Collaborating with Native hunters, the MTRP gathers harvest information and biological samples from polar bear, walrus, and sea otter in more than 100 coastal villages. Benter enjoys spending time in these villages and visiting with local "taggers."

Michael Brubaker

See above

Aimee M. Devaris

See above

Maryann Fidel

See above

Mette Kaufman

As part of the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute’s sea ice research group, Mette Kaufman helped develop and currently manages the SIZONet Local Sea Ice Observations community monitoring project. Through the program, local sea ice experts report observations of sea ice conditions, changes in weather and ice conditions, and sea ice use and hazards in arctic coastal communities along the north and west coasts of Alaska. In addition to documenting local changes and how those changes affect subsistence activities and ice use, the information assists researchers in interpreting sea ice processes on the local scale. The observations are accessible to communities and to the public via an online database

Sue Mauger

As science director, Sue Mauger leads Cook Inletkeeper’s efforts to elevate the importance of salmon stream protection in the face of rapid climate change. Mauger joined Inletkeeper in 2000, and has considerable experience in water chemistry, water quality monitoring, and macroinvertebrate assessment. Before joining Inletkeeper, she worked for the Xerces Society as project director for the Aquatic Invertebrate Monitoring Program, and for Earthwatch as project coordinator in the Life Sciences Department of Field Operations. She holds a BS in zoology from Duke University and an MS in Fisheries Science from Oregon State University.

Julia Parrish

See above

Glenn Seaman

Glenn Seaman is a biologist and social scientist with a keen interest in building meaningful collaboration between tribes and scientists to address priority natural resource issues of Alaska tribes. Seaman worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for over 35 years in marine mammal research, coastal zone management, and the development and management of collaborative research and education programs. Since 2008 he has worked as a consultant to help tribal organizations and scientists in the Chugach, Bering Strait, and Northwest Arctic regions, as they develop community-based research and education programs. He lives in Homer.

Linda Shaw

Linda Shaw is a habitat biologist with the National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Region, in Juneau. For the past decade she has been promoting marine invasive species actions, including community monitoring in Southeast Alaska for invasive European green crab and tunicates. She was part of the team that organized a marine invasive species bioblitz in Sitka in June 2010 that discovered the infestation of the highly invasive tunicate Didemnum vexillum in Whiting Harbor. Shaw continues to work with multiple partners to find ways to address marine invasive species prevention, control, and management options for Alaska.

Orson Smith

Orson Smith has dealt with coastal and civil engineering issues along the entire coast of Alaska for over 40 years. Currently a professor of civil engineering at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Smith came to Alaska in 1973 to join the US Army Corps of Engineers. He served as chief of navigation and flood control, chief of coastal planning, and manager of port and harbor feasibility studies at the Corps. Smith has been on the UAA faculty since 1998, where he served as chair of the Civil Engineering Department and interim dean of the College of Engineering. He has an MS in civil engineering and a PhD in physical oceanography, and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Alaska. He is a Diplomate of the Academy of Coastal, Ocean, Port, and Navigation Engineers in Port Engineering and in Coastal Engineering.

Katie Villano Spellman

Katie Villano Spellman is an ecologist and educator currently finishing up her PhD at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her dissertation investigates how ecology and education can be integrated to build resilience to non-native plant invasions in Alaska. At the heart of her research is the Melibee Project Citizen Science program, which Spellman started in 2011 to investigate the impact of invasive plants on subsistence berries. She coordinated the marine debris and coastal monitoring program at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, where she got hooked on citizen science and now can't stop talking about it.

Zach Stevenson

Zach Stevenson is coordinator of the Northwest Arctic Borough Subsistence Mapping Project. He has a BA in environmental studies from Eckerd College, with a focus on environmental policy and marine biology. Stevenson has fifteen years of experience leading science-based conservation and sustainable development programs in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, and the northeastern United States. He serves as vice-chairman of the steering committee for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative and is an advisory member for Spatial Tools for Arctic Mapping and Planning managed by the Alaska Ocean Observing System. In 2013, Stevenson was on the steering committee for the Workshop on Improving Local Participation in Research in Northwest Alaska funded by the National Science Foundation and convened by the Northwest Arctic Borough and Chukchi Campus, University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Raphaela Stimmelmayr

See above.

Michael Svoboda

Michael Svoboda is the Community Based Monitoring Program Officer and Ecological Monitoring Program Coordinator for Environment Canada, and he works with the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. He is invested in profiling and linking CBM and traditional knowledge monitoring efforts with decision-makers and managers throughout the Arctic. Svoboda has worked with the Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program, which is a cornerstone program of the Arctic Council's Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna working group.