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Second UAS faculty member earns Fulbright Scholar award

Second UAS faculty member earns Fulbright Scholar award

Juneau, Alaska

Second UAS faculty member earns Fulbright Scholar award

University of Alaska Southeast Associate Professor of Environmental Science, Sanjay Pyare, Ph.D., has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar award by the American-Indonesian Exchange Foundation to expand his research on seabird migration patterns.

Pyare joins colleague Dr. Heidi Pearson, who was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar award for her work finding inventive strategies for reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

The Fulbright Program—which is overseen by the United States Department of State’s

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs—serves to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries through educational and cultural exchange.

“Fulbright scholarships are transformative experiences, both for the faculty member who has the honor of representing the United States abroad, and for the colleagues and students the faculty member works with while in-country. It is an honor to be selected and the UAS School of Arts and Sciences is very proud of our two, 2018 Fulbright Scholars,” said Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences, Paula Martin, Ph.D.

Like Pearson, Pyare’s research focuses on conservation.

“I proposed a Fulbright research experience through host institution Udayana University in Indonesia that builds on a decade of prior research in Alaska, along with a U.S. State Department-sponsored visit to Indonesia last year, to investigate the distribution of a conservation flagship – the Aleutian tern – and its remarkable migration between Indonesia and Alaska.” 

According to Pyare, the Aleutian tern, mirroring the plight of many seabird species globally, now numbers just a few thousand birds in the U.S.

“My colleagues and I have conducted Aleutian tern research in the U.S. since 2007, revealing that several breeding colonies with up to thousands of Aleutian terns just a few decades ago have essentially disappeared, and colony numbers across Alaska have experienced the steepest decline of any Alaskan seabird species known.” 

“We also used lightweight tracking devices to discover that Aleutian terns from Yakutat, Alaska migrated consistently every year up to 10,000 miles through East Asia, setting down in coastal Indonesia and Papua New Guinea for at least 8 months of ‘winter’. Thirteen birds studied in Alaska just last summer are presumably staging to migrate back from Southeast Asia to Alaska right now,” he said.

But, he says “in the end, my Fulbright is fundamentally not really about scientific research or even the plight of the ocean environment and seabirds: the Aleutian tern is simply a global messenger about what two far flung cultures and two wild places of the earth have in common. This is about building a bridge for the next generation, starting with my UAS students here in Alaska and those at Udayana University, to think big and think forward.”

Press Release Contact

Keni Campbell
University of Alaska Southeast
(907) 796-6509