Friday, February 27, 2009

Botanical garden seeks volunteers

Dr. Walt Babula is a faithful volunteer at the Georgeson Botanical Garden

The nearly 100 volunteers who help out at the Georgeson Botanical Garden, a research facility of the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, play a critical role in the garden’s success.

As spring approaches, Professor Pat Holloway, garden director, is seeking new recruits who want to help in a variety of ways. While botanical experience is a plus, there are many talents that can be put to use.

Opportunities include:
Plant Propagation Committee: work closely with GBG staff to assess plants desired for the spring plant sale and propagate them.

Horticulture Assistants: help plant and maintain the outdoor gardens, transplanting, watering, weeding, pruning, fruit and vegetable harvesting, collecting and cleaning seeds. Assistants may also collect data and maintain records of research plots. Commitment is three hours per week mid-May through mi- September.

Greenhouse Assistants: work in the horticulture greenhouse maintaining a large collection of ornamental flowering and foliage plants, propagating plants, assisting in the production of vegetable and flower bedding plants including plug production, transplanting, fertilizing, and organic pest control. Commitment is three hours per week in spring, varies in summer and winter.

Gift Shop and Plant Sales Assistants: sell merchandise, inventory stock, price and display items, operate the cash register, and provide general information to the public on the gardens, volunteer and membership opportunities. Volunteers at the surplus plant sale prepare plants for sale, prepare plant identification and price tags, help move plants to the sales area, assist the public in answering questions about plants, and maintain the cash box. Commitment is three hours per week mid-May through mid-September. Extra volunteers are needed for the annual plant sale from mid-April to early May.

Library Assistants: assist in maintaining a collection of books and publications relating to horticulture and assist patrons in locating information. Commitment is three hours per month.

Landscape Construction and Maintenance Assistants: assist in the design, construction, and maintenance of interpretive signs, benches, decks, garden paths, planting beds, irrigation systems, rock walls, and trellises. Skills in carpentry, painting, construction, and design are especially needed. Commitment is three hours per month.

Education and Tourism Assistants: assist in coordinating and promoting educational programs and tours of the garden. Responsibilities include organizing the annual class schedule, giving tours and classes, developing educational programs for children, and coordinating programs with local schools and child care centers. Commitment is three hours per week in summer.

Special Events Coordinator: coordinate events and educational programs.

Office and Data Processing Assistants: computer record keeping and data entry, prepare bulk mailings, develop interpretive signs and labels. Commitment is three hours per week in summer.

Fundraising Committee: assists in developing a fundraising program that will lead to a permanent endowment. Responsibilities include direct mailings and coordination of activities such as contests and educational programs.

For application, visit here.

Volunteers are honored at a dessert party and receive special discounts at the gift shop and plant sale. After ten hours, volunteers earn a free membership. University credit for work experience is also available, with a sixty-hour minimum commitment.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Testing soy biodiesel in Alaska

Soybean plant (Wikipedia)

A team of scientists, researchers, soybean farmers, and truckers will be in Alaska March 5-10 for cold weather testing of biodiesel made from soybeans. The Indiana Soybean Alliance has partnered with the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences on this venture to road test Permaflo Biodiesel at northern latitudes.

“We want to highlight the versatility of Permaflo Biodiesel in two different cold climate applications, namely stationary power and transportation,” said Megan Kuhn, communications director for Indiana Soybean Alliance. The team will fly into Anchorage and drive vehicles powered with biodiesel to Fairbanks. Then part of the crew will continue the drive to the Arctic Circle where they will camp with a generator that runs on biodiesel.

“Our number one priority out of this testing is to come away with some real world testing results,” Kuhn said. “We basically want to say that we tested the fuel in some really cold weather and it performed as well or better than petrodiesel. Our second priority is to capture the whole trip on film so that we can come back and put together some educational/promotional videos. Our third priority is to let our farmers and the biodiesel industry know about the testing and our results.”

Permaflo Biodiesel is a unique formulation of biodiesel that is processed using a simple, novel process (patent pending) that significantly reduces the traditional problems of biodiesel performance in cold-weather conditions. The biodiesel is made by removing the saturated methyl ester fraction of biodiesel using urea fractionation, which changes the chemical composition of biodiesel to lower the cloud point temperature (the point when crystallization starts, so called because the oil begins to appear clouded). Purdue University Professor Bernie Tao created the technology with funding from the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Tao contacted UAF Assistant Professor Andy Soria at the Palmer Research and Extension Center for collaboration on the Alaska testing project.

Soria is working to discover potential biofuel and bio-based products from the chemistry of Alaska trees. A pioneer in the liquefaction of wood-using supercritical fluids, Soria is building a biofuel laboratory at the Palmer Research and Extension Center to develop and test biofuels made from low-grade wood, woody biomass, and fire and insect-killed trees.

Following the testing, a presentation will be given March 9 at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge. The workshop will highlight the results of five years of research in developing cold climate biodiesel capable of working at temperatures below –67 degrees F without gelling. Topics will include:

• Overcoming cold flow properties of biodiesel
• Unveiling of patent-pending Permaflow technology
• Challenges of producing biofuel crops in Alaska
• Role of natural resources in meeting Alaska’s energy and sustainability needs
• Ongoing research projects at the Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station involving biofuels and locally available biomass
• Future work and implications

If interested in attending the seminar, please contact Marilyn Childress by March 6 at 474-7083 or

Links and further reading:
"Tao's Team," Biodiesel Magazine, July/August 2004, by Jessica Williams
"Researcher seeks energy answer in biofuels" SNRAS Science & News blog, Oct. 30, 2008, by Nancy Tarnai and Andy Soria

Addendum:"Hoosiers test soybean fuel in Alaska," by Dermot Cole, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, March 4, 2009
Mission: Arctic Circle, Indiana Soybean Alliance
"Cold-weather soy fuel test in Fairbanks has biodiesel advocates thrilled," Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, March 9, 2009, by Amanda Bohman

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Delta Farm Forum to highlight area agriculture

Farmers and others interested in the latest agricultural developments are invited to the annual Delta Farm Forum Saturday, Feb. 28 at Delta High School. Area producers and representatives from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service and other state and federal agencies will provide information about a variety of agricultural topics. These include the 2008 farm bill and loan program opportunities, berm row removal, Alaska Division of Agriculture grants and activities, and an update on fertilizer availability and price. Franci Havemeister, director of the Division of Agriculture, will talk about building a sustainable agriculture industry in the state.

The forum is co-sponsored by the Delta District Extension and the Salcha-Delta Soil and Water Conservation District. Ruby Hollembaek of the Alaska Interior Game Ranch will welcome participants at 9 a.m. and the forum will run until 3 p.m., with a potluck lunch at 11:30 a.m. Local 4-H group DJ Saddletramps and the local Future Farmers of America chapter will serve as masters of ceremony. Several agriculture-related businesses and groups have information booths at the event. A complete schedule is available on the Extension website.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

UA Geography offers “Lunch on Earth”

John Bailey in the globe room at UAF's Geophysical Institute

For a brown bag lunch workshop that will really take you places, nothing tops the new series, “Lunch on Earth,” offered by UA Geography and the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center.

Post-doctoral fellow John Bailey launched the first session on Feb. 10 with rousing Star Wars theme music, guiding the audience through an introduction to Google Earth. “You don’t need a degree in computer science to understand this,” Bailey told the crowd. “Google is user friendly.” The interactive workshops are designed to build a user community and share expertise, Bailey said.

When Bailey asked what is the most popular use of Google Earth, several people called out “looking at your neighbor’s houses,” and Bailey agreed that 90 percent of usage is actually for that purpose. “There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said, “if it gives people a better sense of geography.”

Google Earth was founded in 2001 by Keyhole and acquired by Google in 2004. The next year it gained mass appeal due to Hurricane Katrina. In addition to allowing people to check on the damage caused by the storm, Google Earth was a great help to emergency crews. Google Earth uses keyhole markup language (KML). “What html is to the web, KML is to Google Earth,” Bailey said.

The new version 5 offers negative elevations for oceans, complete with imagery. Demonstrating a flight into Hawaii, Bailey noted that the Google Earth ocean shimmers just like a real ocean. “You can even go under the surface,” he said. “Now this if fun.” He demonstrated exploring content with the tool Blue Planet. New updates include improved time and animation features.

The original version of Google Earth is free to everyone, while Google Earth Pro is $400 a year and Google Earth Enterprise is so expensive that if you have to ask you can’t afford it, Bailey joked. Newer versions even feature a Mars option.

“Think of the educational possibilities,” Bailey said. “Classrooms can tour Alaska volcanoes, zoom around Cook Inlet, and show tsunami hazards. The options are endless.”

Geophysical Institute Professor Kenneson Dean said he likes the lunch workshop because professors can learn about Google Earth alongside students and staff. “There’s no pressure to do homework or assignments,” he said. “I like that it’s open to the public and we can present what we do at the university to the public. It’s what Google Earth is about; it’s a microcosm of Google concepts.”

UA Geography Director Mike Sfraga said the workshops are a conscious effort to share the expertise of the program with the rest of the campus and the community. “Brown bagging is a nice forum to demonstrate what we do. We are showing geography tools that will take us into the next century,” he said.

In weekly seminars, Lunch on Earth is designed to bring together members of the UAF community interested in Google Earth, KML, and other Web 2.0 geospatial tools. Seminars will be presented by Dr. John E. Bailey in the appropriate setting of the Globe Room at the Geophysical Institute, west ridge of the campus. Attendees are encouraged to bring questions, KML problems, and their lunch. The schedule extends through the end of April.

Addendum: the next Lunch on Earth seminar is "KML's Magical Mystery Tour", a guide to using GE 5's new "tour" function. Learn how to record flights over the landscape, add sound, turn KML features on and off, and even view your tour from different perspectives.

Date: Friday, February 20th
Time: 12 to 1
Location: The Globe Room, Geophysical Institute, West Ridge, UAF campus

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beyond the Arctic: Latin America

John R. Hamilton lecturing at UAF on Feb. 11
Why would America’s arctic university host a guest lecturer who is a former ambassador to Guatemala and Peru?

“We’re not just arctic,” explained Mike Sfraga, director of the UA Geography program, at a Feb. 11 event where former US ambassador John R. Hamilton discussed US-Latin American relations. “UAF does arctic very well,” Sfraga said, “but there are broader issues and other factors that impact our lives.”

In his introduction, Hamilton demonstrated how small the world is by describing how, on the day of the Fairbanks lecture, a friend in Guatemala e-mailed him a story about Hamilton from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

“The beginning of a new presidential administration is an exciting time in international affairs,” Hamilton said. The Obama administration reminds him somewhat of the John F. Kennedy administration. “There is hope and expectation in Latin America,” he said. “But let’s face it; Latin America is not going to be at the top of the new administration’s list.”

Hamilton said US relations with Latin America are in better shape than is shown in the mainstream media. “We have good relations with Brazil and Mexico and bilateral agreements with many countries.”

Immigration, trade, imported oil, investments, and illegal drugs all point to the importance of being on good terms with Latin America, Hamilton said. Among the US’s obligations are to support fair elections, respect human rights, and strengthen the press in Latin America, he added.

Hamilton advised the audience to observe:
• the Feb. 15 election in Venezuela
• Hugo Chavez’s domestic policies in Venezuela where inflation is at least 30 percent
• the exodus of Jewish citizens from Latin America due to anti-Semitism
• the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Crime is a significant factor in some Latin American countries, Hamilton said. “Colombia is a very violent place; if you polled Latin Americans about what issue concerns them the most I think it would be lack of security in the streets. Frankly, it’s terrible.”

The issues that will affect US-Latin American relations the most are the state of the US economy (“This will affect our relations more than anything,” Hamilton said.), trade policy, immigration, and the political situations in Cuba and Brazil. “I hope the Obama administration addresses income inequality,” Hamilton said. “Even in wealthy countries poverty is huge. Our intent should be to think how inequality can be reduced.”

Read about President Obama's foreign policy plan.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hamilton on volatility in Latin America

John R. Hamilton, former US ambassador
Fairbanksans have the chance to hear firsthand knowledge concerning the current dynamics of Latin America when former US Ambassador John R. Hamilton gives a free lecture Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the UAF Salisbury Theatre.

Brought to the campus by the UA Geography Program and the Alaska World Affairs Council, Hamilton brings Latin American relations with the US to the forefront just as the new presidential administration begins. The lecture will cover many contemporary issues facing the region including recent political developments in Venezuela, Peru, and the Caribbean.

His speech will address such topics as:
• regimes that are unfriendly to the US and the West
• Venezuela: friendly with nations that don’t have good relations with the US
• war games being conducted on the Venezuelan coast
• “petro-politics”
• how the price of oil changes regimes
and even…
• Venezuela providing heating oil to Native villages in Alaska.

John Hamilton was the US ambassador to Peru from 1999 to 2002 and to Guatemala from 2002 to 2005.

Further reading:
"Former ambassador to Peru, Guatemala to speak at UAF," by Christopher Eshelman, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Feb. 11, 2009

New sunflower is for the birds

Midnight Sun-flower photographed by Bob Van Veldhuizen
After sixteen years of selection, a new oilseed sunflower variety adapted to interior Alaska growing conditions has been announced. Midnight Sun-flower is an open pollinated selection made from a sunwheat variety (a dwarf hybrid sunflower) that was originally planted in 1993. This selection was unofficially released as ‘Midnight Sun-flower’ to local gardeners in spring 2008 as a potential agronomic and horticultural oilseed crop, primarily for the wild birdseed market.

Sunflowers (Helianthus annus L.) are an annual broadleaved plant that can grow 5 to 20 feet tall. They have stout, rough, and hairy stems one to three inches in diameter topped by a seed head that is 3 to 24 inches in diameter. The heads have many small, cross-pollinated flowers surrounded by pointed scales and 40 to 80 yellow rays. Wild sunflowers or horticultural varieties may have multiple branched heads from a single stalk. There are two types of sunflowers that are grown as an agronomic crop. Those that have black or dark brown seed are grown for the oil content, and those with white stripes on the seed grown for the confectionary market. Both the heads and the leaves of sunflowers track the sun during the day and tilt upward at midnight. This phenomenon is called nutation and continues every day until the end of the flowering stage.

About half of the dried weight of sunflower heads is seed. The whole seed contains about 24 to 45 percent oil. Only about 20 to 35 percent oil can actually be expressed from the whole seed. Sunflower oil is obtained by a combination of expressing and solvent extraction. The remaining oil cake meal contains about 35 percent protein, which is used as a livestock feed. Sunflower oil is mostly polyunsaturated and is used in the edible oil market. It also is a semidrying oil that is used in the manufacture of soaps and paints. Whole oil seed is used as a feed for poultry and caged and wild birds. Confectionery seeds are either eaten raw or roasted. In Alaska, sunflowers have been grown on limited acreages off and on for many years, primarily as livestock forage and secondarily as oil and confectionary seed for the local birdseed market.

Starting in 1993, seeds were collected from the earliest maturing heads of a sunwheat variety in the Fairbanks area. These seeds were hand threshed, cleaned, and planted in test plots the following season. This process has been repeated every year since then. Since sunwheats are hybrid varieties and all sunflowers are open pollinated, there was considerable variation in the following year’s crop. However, continued selection for early maturity has resulted in a more uniform, open pollinated sunflower that closely resembles the Canadian Sunola varieties. To date, the plants are quite dwarfish, 20–24 inches tall, and with head diameters of close to 6 inches. It matures 7 to 10 days earlier (an average of 83 days from planting) than the earliest sunwheat varieties and 14–20 days earlier than common sunflower varieties. This produces acceptable yields of around 350–400 lbs/acre, much better than that of the earliest sunwheat varieties. Because this is an open pollinated selection there is still considerable variability among plants.

The heads are mature when the backs of the heads have turned from green to yellow and the bracts have turned brown, which occurs late August to mid-September. Heads will require more drying after harvest to continue ripening the seeds. This can be done by tying a few of the cut stems together and hanging them upside down in a warm dry place for a couple of weeks. The seed can either be left in the heads or they can be threshed from the heads by hand. To do this, use a pair of leather gloves and rub the seeds from the heads into an open container. The heads can then be discarded. Dried heads and cleaned seed can be placed at birdfeeders as a high energy feed for wild birds throughout the winter.

Limited seed will be available through the UAF Alaska Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station this year. Contact Bob Van Veldhuizen for more information at

For more information on sunflower and other agronomic crop performance trials, see
“Performance of Agronomic Crop Varieties in Alaska, 1978–2002,”
by Robert M. Van Veldhuizen and Charles W. Knight, AFES Bulletin 111 (136 pp), published October 2004 (PDF).

For more information on ornamental sunflower performance, see Annual Flowering Plant Trials (PDF).

by Bob Van Velduizen, SNRAS-AFES research assistant

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sustainable energy for Interior villages?

Nancy Fresco and her child in the taiga.

While researching carbon dynamics for her doctoral dissertation with SNRAS in the IGERT program, Nancy Fresco (now with SNAP) found a way to assist rural Alaska communities in solving their energy needs.

Studying ways the state could become more carbon neutral, Fresco stumbled on biomass conversion, which could change the way villages create electricity. By harvesting sustainable timber that only takes dozens of years to replace, rather than the millions of years required for oil and gas, not only is the carbon footprint smaller but the benefits on the side are numerous. “The potential is huge for communities to become more independent from fossil fuels and from the vagaries of the market and to become more self-sufficient,” Fresco said.

Stressing that she speaks from an academic perspective and has not visited the possible sites, Fresco noted that each village is different and could make the proposal work only on a case by case basis. “Whether this would be desirable is up to the communities. It’s an option.”

Converting electrical power generation systems to wood energy could play a significant role in addressing the high cost of electrical generation, wildfire risk, unemployment, and environmental contamination from diesel fuel, Fresco asserts. Under the direction of UAF Professor F. Stuart Chapin III, she assessed the feasibility of switching power generation systems in 33 rural communities in forested regions of interior Alaska and discovered that all but one of those communities could meet all their electrical demand and some heating needs with a sustainable harvest of biomass within a radius of eight kilometers of the village.

Black spruce, Picea mariana, along the Copper River. Photo  from NOAA.

The focus of the study was on black spruce that could be burned in simple, easily maintained small-scale boilers to generate electrical power. Whole-tree wood chips or chunks were oxidized with excess air circulation and the hot flue gases released produce steam in the heat-exchange sections of the boiler. Fresco and Chapin assumed an efficiency of 28 percent for electrical production, keeping their estimates intentionally conservative. They took into consideration the installed cost of a biomass power system per kilowatt of generation capacity, the total biomass capacity installed, the actual energy offset, diesel efficiency, diesel price, the fraction of nonfuel costs offset by use of biomass, total nonfuel costs, biomass energy generated, and biomass energy costs. The installation costs could be recouped within 12 years.

“Biomass fuels are likely to increase the long-term social and ecological resilience of village communities to externally-driven changes, including fluctuations in fossil fuels prices, variability in Alaska’s economic outlook, and changes in fire risk and fire management,” Fresco said.

Social factors likely to affect the feasibility of fuel substitution included:
• Existing social infrastructure related to village electrical utility management and funding, fire prevention, and biomass harvest;
• Threshold requirements (make-or-break factors needed within a particular community or at a broader scale, e.g., a minimum level of local technological expertise);
• Existing institutional barriers to change;
• Potential positive social feedback (e.g., autonomy, employment);
• Potential negative social feedback (e.g., reactions to system quirks or failures);
• Lessons learned from existing biomass projects in rural Alaska.
Further reading:
• “Biomass fuels: local energy, local jobs, and community resilience,” by Nancy Fresco and F. Stuart Chapin III, Agroborealis 40.1, Spring 2009 (in press).

Researcher seeks energy answer in biofuels, SNRAS Science & News, October 28, 2008.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Professor Jan Rowell: muskoxen, reindeer, antlers, and stem cells

Jan Rowell, newly appointed research assistant professor, has been fascinated by muskoxen throughout her professional life.

Rowell, who has been a research scientist at UAF’s School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences for nine years, was recently promoted to the professorship. Calling Rowell an accomplished biologist and animal scientist, Professor Milan Shipka, chair of the Department of High Latitude Agriculture, said, “We are very happy she decided to pursue the research faculty position.”

After earning a PhD at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1991, Rowell began studying muskoxen for the National Museum of Natural Sciences (now called the Canadian Museum of Nature), collecting information on muskox behavior. For five months, she observed the animals, at that time considered a threatened species, and recorded everything she saw. “This was an International Biological Program Site visited by scientists from all over the world,” Rowell recalled. “It was an incredible opportunity.”

She worked for Dr. David Gray, author of The Muskoxen of Polar Bear Pass, a study of Canada's High Arctic muskoxen. The book describes the complexity of muskox society and the dramatic events in the annual cycle of their lives. Woven into his scientific work is a fascinating description of the challenges he faced during a winter in the High Arctic studying and photographing these magnificent animals.

Rowell’s master’s degree research was on the reproductive anatomy of muskoxen. She accompanied Inuit hunting trips, but only after she complied with two requests: to wear caribou clothing and to get inside a sleeping bag if she got cold. “I happily agreed,” she said. During the hunt for muskox, which covered hundreds of miles in the dark winter on Ellesmere Island, the hunters slept in igloos, which Rowell found to her liking. “I would take them over a tent any day,” she said. “They are incredibly warm.”

On Banks Island the wild muskox herds began to reproduce and expand. Rowell and other researchers traveled to Banks Island where they captured thirteen muskox calves and flew them to Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. Through bottle feeding and halter breaking, the calves became tame enough to converge on their feed when a bell rang. When the muskox reached eighteen months of age, reproductive studies began, the focus of Rowell’s doctoral research. “Their reproductive traits are similar to sheep and goats,” Rowell said. “That gave us a model to use.”

She documented normal endocrine patterns of the estrous cycle and pregnancy, describing unusual progesterone patterns during pregnancy.

Since coming to Alaska, Rowell worked at the UAF Large Animal Research Station, where she continued studying muskox, but also began focusing on caribou and reindeer. She served on a task force investigating health and reproductive problems at the Muskox Farm in Palmer. At LARS, in addition to animal research, she assisted with outreach and education efforts and began researching qiviut, the wool of muskoxen.

Delving into caribou and reindeer gave Rowell something new to ponder—antlers. “I found them absolutely phenomenal,” she said. “They represent true mammalian regeneration from stem cells. This model for regeneration in mammals has been seriously overlooked by the biomedical community.”

Meanwhile, with funding from the USDA National Research Initiative, and in collaboration with Dr. Shipka, Rowell has focused on muskox and reindeer husbandry, including bull behavior, breeding seasons, female estrus synchronization, gestation length, and ultrasonography. “In the future, we will continue to pursue sustainable agriculture in Alaska, with an emphasis on farming indigenous species. The potential of using reindeer antlers as a biomedical model is also something that needs to be explored . The mouse model has been overused,” she said. “Reindeer are a great example of an agricultural species with unique potential for biomedical research.”

Further reading:

“The Muskox: a new northern farm animal,” (PDF) an overview of muskox research and muskox farms by Deirdre Helfferich. SNRAS Miscellaneous Publication MP 2008-02.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Lecture to focus on US relations with Latin America

The UA Geography Program will bring Latin American relations with the US to the forefront at a free public lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 11. Former United States Ambassador John R. Hamilton’s topic will be “U.S. – Latin Relations at the Outset of the Obama Administration.” The lecture will cover many contemporary issues facing the region including recent political developments in Venezuela, Peru, and the Caribbean.

Hamilton (pictured at right) was the US Ambassador to Peru from 1999 to 2002 and Guatemala from 2002 to 2005. He now lives on Harstine Island, near Shelton, Wash.

A career officer in the US Foreign Service for thirty five years, Hamilton served in Spain, Mexico, Greece, Peru (twice), Costa Rica, and Guatemala. He was also assigned to the Western Hemisphere Affairs bureau of the Department of State in Washington, D.C., at junior, mid-grade and senior levels of his career. Before being named Ambassador to Peru, he was the second-ranking official in Western Hemisphere Affairs and had responsibility, among other issues, for US policy toward Cuba. He also worked for extended periods on Central American Affairs and was given an award for his support of the peace negotiations that ended the thirty six-year armed conflict in Guatemala in 1996. The department presented him with its Distinguished Honor Award in 2005.

Hamilton attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar, graduating with honors in U.S. history in 1967. In 1982 he obtained a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Stanford University. Before entering the Foreign Service, he saw active duty in the U.S. Navy Reserve in the Pacific Fleet. His interests include music, birding, gardening, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and bridge.

Ambassador Hamilton’s lecture is sponsored by the University of Alaska Geography Program, UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, and the Alaska World Affairs Council. The free lecture is at 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the UAF Salisbury Theatre.