2016-2017 Scientist in Residency Fellows

Heather Ward

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Geospatial Research Laboratory

Dr. Heather Ward works for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’, Engineer Research and Development Center, Geospatial Research Laboratory. Her environmental security research helps commanders and strategic planners understand the environment as ‘cause and cure’ for conflict and navigate the many interconnected social-ecological systems (SES) they need to consider during full-spectrum operations. Current research interests involve formulating arctic and subarctic social-ecological schemas, outlining unique vulnerabilities and resiliencies of coastal megacities, and exploring ‘senses of place.’ Dr. Ward also serves as adjunct faculty in East Carolina University’s Department of Geography, Planning and the Environment and as editor of the Journal of Military Geography.  (October - November 2016)

Heather's Sitka Activities

  • KCAW morning interview
  • Community interviews for Sitkans' sense of place
  • Natural History Seminar: "Magic and models: sense of place @ the speed of need"
  • Presentations in Sitka High School's AP Human Geography and AP Global Studies classes
  • WhaleFest guest scientist

Nicholas Pyenson

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Nick is the curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, in Washington, D.C. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed his postdoctoral work at the University of British Columbia. As a paleontologist, his scientific research focuses on how different kinds of four-limbed animals have repeatedly invaded oceans from land ancestry over the past 250 million years – an evolutionary cross-section of vertebrate life that includes sea turtles, seabirds, and especially marine mammals, such as whales. He has done scientific fieldwork on every continent, and lead over a dozen scientific expeditions during the last decade, with a strong focus on paleontological exploration, anatomical discovery, international mentorship, and 3D digitization for museum collections. You can read more about the research in his laboratory here. He can also be tracked on Twitter @PyensonLab. (February 2017)

Nick's Sitka Activities

Cheryl Rosa

United States Arctic Research Commission

Dr. Cheryl Rosa is Deputy Director and Anchorage-based Alaska Director of the United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC), an independent federal agency of Presidential appointees that advises the White House and Congress on Arctic research matters and works with executive branch agencies to establish and execute a national Arctic research plan. The Commission also facilitates cooperation with local and state governments and recommends means for developing international scientific cooperation in the Arctic.

Dr. Rosa is trained as a Wildlife Veterinarian and Wildlife Biologist and has worked with subsistence communities on the North Slope and in the Russian Far East on a wide range of studies involving wildlife health and zoonotic disease, marine mammal stranding response, subsistence food safety and oil spill/offshore discharge research. She is a member of the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee, as well as numerous other federal and non-federal boards and steering committees. Presently, she is involved in running USARC’s Alaska Rural Water and Sanitation Working Group, the Arctic Renewable Energy Working Group and the Arctic Mental and Behavioral Health Working Group. Dr. Rosa received a PhD in Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University and a BS in Animal Science and a BS in Zoology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. (April 2017)

Cheryl's Sitka Activities

  • KCAW on-air visit during Raven Radio's spring fundraising drive
  • Natural History Seminar: "Rapid Arctic Change: why does it matter to you?"
  • Interview with Sitka Sentinel, Sitka's daily newspaper
  • Collaboration with Sitka Tribe of Alaska Environmental Sciences program
  • Presentation in Blatchley Middle School 8th grade classes on topic of stable isotopes and bioenergetics
  • "Walk through a whale" activity with elementary-age homeschool group
  • Participated in the Earth Day "Parade of the Species", hosted by Sitka Conservation Society and SSSC


Alan Verde

Maine Maritime Academy

Alan Verde is a Professor within the Corning School of Ocean Studies at Maine Maritime Academy (MMA).  His research interests include both tropical and temperate cnidarian (corals, anemones, jellyfish) endosymbiosis involving unicellular algae, both tropical and temperate sea cucumber physiology and ecology, anemonefish-anemone symbiosis, and temperate octopus biology and ecology.  Alan completed his Post-doctoral at Oregon State University, Ph.D. at Florida Institute of Technology, and both Master's and Bachelor’s of Science at Walla Walla University, Washington.  As the Diving Safety Officer, Alan oversees all aspects of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) - sponsored scientific diving program at MMA. (May 2017)

Alan's Sitka Activities