Introduction to the Arctic: Climate Change, Security, and More

Introduction to the Arctic: Climate Change, Security, and More 

Learn from expert speakers about the Arctic region and critical issues that it faces through topics such as erosion and climate change in permafrost landscapes, Arctic security, the importance of art to climate awareness, and sustainable wound dressings made out of fish skin in Iceland —on February 18th from 3:30 to 7:30. The event will take place both virtually and in-person in 1502 Posvar Hall. Snacks will be provided, and attendees will receive a resource book about future opportunities to explore Arctic topics. Speaker bios, registration information, and schedule can be found below.

Sponsored by: University of Pittsburgh's Global Studies Center; Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies; European Studies Center; Ford Institute for Human Security; Global Experiences Office; Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation; and Pitt Climate and Global Change Center.


Aly Yingst
PhD Student at the University of Iceland
Alexandra (Aly) Yingst is a PhD student in Global Studies at the University of Iceland. Her PhD research focuses on what life is like for crew members onboard cruise ships. She first came to Iceland in 2016 on a Fulbright Scholarship to attend the master’s program in Coastal and Marine Management at the University Centre of the Westfjords. Her thesis focused on the roles, perceptions, and hopes of women working in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the Westfjords of Iceland. Previously, she obtained a Bachelor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences, Sociology, and International and Area Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. Before starting her PhD, Alexandra worked as an expedition guide and anthropology lecturer on cruise ships, primarily in the polar regions. She also works as a NAUI scuba instructor and worked as a research assistant/boat driver for the Icelandic Orca Project last summer.
Brandon Boylan
Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Dr. Brandon M. Boylan is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Arctic and Northern Studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His research focuses on international security, political violence, ethnic conflict, separatist movements, and a variety of Arctic issues. His authored and co-authored work has been published in various outlets, such as International Studies Perspectives, Nations and Nationalism, Conflict Management and Peace Science, and Journal of Common Market Studies. His collaborative work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education. He teaches a range of undergraduate and graduate courses in international relations, comparative politics, and research methods, and advises several undergraduate, M.A., and Ph.D. students. He is faculty lead on the UArctic Model Arctic Council. He holds a Ph.D. in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.
Theresa Baughman
Theresa Baughman is an artist, musician, and cultural critic. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015 with a BA in studio arts and a minor in cultural anthropology. In her undergraduate studies, Theresa completed four research residencies including field studies in Rock River, WY and London, UK. In 2018 she participated in The Arctic Circle Residency via Svalbard, the North Pole. Theresa is a founding contributor to the online academic horror magazine What Sleeps Beneath where she writes about the subversive meanings behind visual storytelling. You can find her napping with her dog, Sammie, or hoarding beautiful packaging. Artist statement: "My work explores themes such as material studies, identity politics, and object. I am particularly interested in the Anthropocene and how our cultural identities shift with a changing landscape. I am always examining objects and thinking about how something can move between borders, cultures, landscapes, and language. I make things that are almost familiar, things that are reminiscent of a place or object that you once knew."
Eitan Shelef
Assistant Professor of Geology and Environmental Science, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Eitan Shelef is an Assistant Professor for the Department of Geology and Environmental Science at the University of Pittsburgh. His research interests include the feedbacks between geomorphology, tectonics and climate across dierent temporal and spatial scales. Dr. Shelef’s current research is focused on the interaction between climate and erosion in Arctic areas,on the development of topography along strike slip faults and topographic escarpments, and on landslide occurrence and mapping. Through use of field work, numerical models and geospatial statistics, he explores the mechanisms of these processes and their sensitivity to dierent environmental conditions. Dr. Shelef has conducted his postdoctoral research at Ben Gurion University in Israel and in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He earned his Ph.D. in Geology and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, M.Sc. in Geology from the University of North Carolina, and B.Sc. from the Hebruew University of Jerusalem.
Gunnar Johannsson
SVP of Research & Development, Kerecis
Dr. Gunnar Johannsson is the Senior Vice President of Kerecis, an Icelandic medical company that is pioneering the use of fish skin and fatty acids in the globally expanding cellular therapy and infection control markets. In his role, Dr. Johannsson is responsible for the clinical research, product development and market registration of innovative new products for Kerecis. He assists with bringing the benefit of Omega-3 based tissue regeneration to new surgical specialties and helping patients with a wider variety of problems. Dr. Johannsson is also a founding partner of Somnify, an online insomnia treatment in Scandinavia; ​​Betri svefn, a sleep therapy company; and Skin Loom Medical Consulting. He received his MD from the University of Iceland.
Ruth Miller
Climate Justice Director, Native Movement
Ruth is a Dena'ina Athabaskan and Ashkenazi Russian Jewish woman, raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She is a member of the Curyung Tribe, and also has roots in Bristol Bay, where her family descended downriver after leaving the Lake Iliamna region. She is a recent graduate from Brown University, built on occupied Wampanoag and Narragansett lands, and received a BA in Critical Development Studies with a focus on Indigenous resistance and liberation. She has worked many years towards Indigenous rights advocacy and climate justice in Alaska, as well as in Rhode Island and the south of Chile. She centers themes of wellness and community care, and is thinking a lot about growth and regeneration and imagination in our activism work. Ruth also does International Indigenized climate justice work with the United Nations Association and SustainUS. Most of all, she loves singing as her Grandma Ruth did, practicing traditional beadwork with her mother late at night, slowly discovering her Dena'ina language, and building radical communities of love!
Deloole’annh Erickson
Environmental Justice Director, Native Movement
Deloole’aanh is Denaa, her family comes from the village of Ggał Doh (Kaltag), AK. Raised in the Tlingit village of Hoonah, in southeast Alaska, she grew up with a deep understanding of what it means to be Indigenous. However, growing up so far from her own culture left her with a feeling that she was missing something. Since she moved to the interior in 2010 she has been on a journey to reconnect to her culture. This has been a combination of language revitalization work, learning traditional arts from her region and going to Kaltag in the summer to participate in subsistence fishing with her cousins. Through this reconnection journey she found her way into Indigenous activism work and found a place with Native Movement as a community volunteer over the years and now as a team member. Deloole earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2018 and is finishing her Bachelors of Art degree in Rural Development expecting to finish in 2021.

This workshop is open to all. If you are joining us in person, please complete the registration form no later than February 17th. There is no deadline for those attending virtually.

Friday, February 18th

3:30 - 3:45PM: Introduction to the Artic

3:45 - 4:30PM: An Overview of Arctic Security with Brandon Boylan

4:30 - 5:15PM: Presenation from Kerecis representative

5:15 - 5:30PM: Break

5:30 - 6PM: Presentation from Native Movement representative

6 - 6:30PM: Sensitivity of erosion-rate in permafrost landscapes to environmental conditions based on a sedimentary record from Burial Lake, AK with Eitan Shelef

6:30 - 7PM: How Art Informs Policy Change/North Pole Residency with Theresa Baughman

7 - 7:30PM: Speaker Panel Q&A Session


Global Studies Student Ambassador
Caroline Weiss

View and download our event flyer below!