Thursday, August 11, 2016

SNRE hosts seminar for Japanese students

The Japanese exchange group and professors gather with Dave Valentine and Miho
Morimoto on the first day of their seminar.

A dozen students from Hokkaido University and two visiting professors are learning about Alaska natural resources management, courtesy of the School of Natural Resources and Extension.

The Japanese contingent arrived late Monday night and is attending lectures at UAF and touring destinations relevant to the natural resources theme. SNRE Professor Dave Valentine and Miho Morimoto, a postdoctoral researcher who earned a Ph.D. from UAF this summer but is from Japan, cooordinated the nine-day tour, which is officially known as the Alaska Natural Resources Sustainability Field Seminar.

Valentine describes the seminar as similar to the NRM 290 field course but it will be based in Fairbanks since participants are staying in university dorms. The noncredit seminar will combine lectures on campus with field lectures and tours around the Interior. The group is traveling in a university van.

UAF lectures will cover forest health, permafrost, sustainability, fisheries and recreation, and field lectures will address climate change, forest field sampling, agriculture and Alaska livestock. Several SNRE professors will meet with the students, including Jenifer McBeath, Pete Fix, Milan Shipka, Glenn Juday, Valentine, Steven Seefeldt and Jan Dawe. Students will also tour Morimoto’s forest research plots and take core and soil samples, and they will learn a little about her research in forest regeneration.

The group will also visit Doyon Ltd. to talk about Native corporations and the Division of Forestry to talk about wildfires and forest management. Participants will learn about mining at the Fort Knox Mine, aurora research at the Poker Flat Research Range, geothermal energy at Chena Hot Springs, and research at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm and the Large Animal Research Station. They will also travel to Denali National Park to hear about how the park is managed for tourism and for conservation.

Valentine said Hokkaido University is known for its international exchanges and representatives have wanted to bring a group to UAF for several years. He traveled to Hokkaido University in Sapporo last November to arrange the seminar. Morimoto, who grew up in Japan, earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in forestry at Hokkaido University.

The students all speak varying degrees of English but Valentine said he would never have attempted the seminar without Morimoto because of potential language challenges. “I’d be lost,” he said.

Morimoto first came to UAF on an exchange from Hokkaido University. She was working on her master’s degree and said UAF was the only institution that was available then that would accept her limited fluency in English. Despite language challenges, she persevered, and came back to earn her doctorate in natural resources and sustainability through SNRE.

Students participating in the seminar are sophomores and juniors at Hokkaido University, according to Morimoto. They study a wide variety of disciplines, including engineering, education, agriculture, literature and forest science.

Masahide Kaeriyama, one of two professors from Hokkaido University accompanying the group, said the students want to learn about wildlife in Alaska and the science behind the natural ecosystem. They will also learn about potential exchanges to UAF. Keriyama, who is also senior advisor to the Office in International Affairs at Hokkaido, said, “I hope they want to return to UAF.”

The other professor, Xiao Lan, is from China but has lived in Japan nine years. She plans to return to Alaska with future student groups.

Activities will wrap up with a closing ceremony from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Georgeson Botanical Garden.

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