News and Announcements
How did we get here? The Alaska economy is heavily dependent on the oil sector both in terms of private sector jobs and government funding. Since the rapid decline in oil prices, it has experienced a prolonged recession with declines in employment across most sectors. Before the end of 2014, oil prices were elevated for a long period of time when the price exceeded 100 dollars for multiple months. However, starting June 2014, oil prices experienced a deep drop averaging only $54.26 in the 4 years since. This is much lower than the $84.47 they averaged between 2006 and July 2014. While oil prices started declining in June of 2014, the first month of negative employment growth did not occur until October 2015. The state has essentially lost jobs in every month since that initial decline. This has also resulted in a precipitous drop in government revenues, which has forced the state to use savings to fill the fiscal gap. To gain perspective on the depth and severity of the Alaska experience, we attempt to compare the recessions across states and understand the features of the states which fared best and worst.
ISER’s Jennifer Schmidt, Assistant Professor of Natural Resources Management, is lead for the Urban Forest and Watershed sector of the Anchorage Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a collaboration between the University of Alaska and the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for the impacts of climate change. Schmidt is among UAA faculty supported by a University of Alaska Faculty Initiative Fund, to work with MOA staff, non-profit, governmental and community-based organizations to identify benefits that will come from developing a climate plan, including cost savings and job creation.
ISER researcher Dr. Tobias Schwoerer and UAA Engineering Computer Science Professor Dr. Frank Witmer are working with UAA Honors student Devin Boyle to get a better understanding of how Elodea, an invasive freshwater plant in Alaska, is being spread across Alaska by float planes. Funded with an Honors College grant and support from Rust’s Flying Service, the project involves investigating the feasibility of using images captured by cameras installed on float planes as part of a “big data” citizen science project.
The state is in the midst of its longest recession. A new analysis by Mouhcine Guettabi, an associate professor of economics at ISER, analyzes how the recent decline in oil prices has affected the overall Alaska economy and its individual sectors, compares the Alaska recession to that of other energy-dependent states, and estimates the long run relationship between oil prices and employment growth.
The Center for Alaska Education Policy Research (CAEPR) is collaborating with the Department of Biological Sciences in a new National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project to redesign UAA’s general introductory biology course for non-majors. The goal is to increase student learning and engagement, and to encourage more UAA students to pursue STEM majors and careers.
Jennifer I. Schmidt, ISER researcher and Assistant Professor of Natural Resources Management, is co-author of an article that explores the importance and development of relationships with local, often Indigeneous populations, to manage resources in remote Arctic locations. "The Role of Trust in Sustainable Management of Land, Fish, and Wildlife Populations in the Arctic" appears in the Sustainable and Rural Development section of the September issue of Sustainability, an international, cross-disciplinary journal.