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April 30, 2010

Weingartner wins Usibelli award for research

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Fairbanks, Alaska—The University of Alaska Fairbanks has announced recipients of the 2010 Emil Usibelli Distinguished Teaching, Research and Public Service Awards.

Thomas Weingartner, professor of oceanography at SFOS, received the Usibelli Distinguished Research Award.

Weingartner’s first experience at UAF was as a student, first in a master’s program and then, from 1988 to 1991, as a postdoctoral fellow. He joined the UAF faculty as a research associate in 1991 and in 1993 accepted a position as an assistant professor in the Institute of Marine Science. Weingartner’s work during the last two decades is characterized by both depth and breadth.

“Whereas many physical oceanographers spend entire careers working on one system, Dr. Weingartner is a major contributor to our understanding of physical oceanography in four large marine ecosystems: Gulf of Alaska, eastern Bering Sea, Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea,” his colleagues wrote in their nomination letter.

Weingartner’s research focuses on understanding the processes that control ocean circulation and temperature and salinity changes in Alaska’s continental shelves.

“This knowledge is relevant to comprehending marine ecosystems, including fisheries, climate variability and the impacts of offshore industrial development,” he said. “My research funding reflects, and has been relevant to, all three of these concerns.”

In multiple nomination letters, fellow scientists reference Weingartner’s work as foundational to understanding Alaska’s oceans and laud his ability to both conduct solid research and make it accessible to the public. State, national and international agencies and companies, along with scientists in a variety of disciplines, rely on his work to guide their own.

“I wish I had the capability to write a letter that would adequately describe Dr. Weingartner’s significant contributions to the UAF research effort and the ocean science community,” said SFOS dean Denis Wiesenburg. “The research of Dr. Weingartner and his students brings distinction to our program and the university.”

The Usibelli Distinguished Teaching Award went to Rich Boone, professor and biology and wildlife department chairman. The Usibelli Distinguished Public Service Award went to Kara Nance, a computer science professor and head of the Advanced System Security Education, Research and Training center.

The Emil Usibelli Distinguished Teaching, Research and Public Service Awards are considered one of the university’s most prestigious awards. They represent UAF’s tripartite mission and are funded annually from a $600,000 endowment established by Usibelli Coal Mine in 1992.

Each year, a committee that includes members from the faculty, the student body and a member of the UA Foundation Board of Trustees evaluates the nominees. Each of the winners receives a cash award of $10,000.

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