November 6, 2008
Dear Friend of Idaho State University:
As the oil and gas industry turns to the Bering Sea in the search for energy, ISU anthropologist Katherine Reedy-Maschner, Ph.D., will be chronicling the possible impacts that offshore drilling may have on Native Alaskans who live in the area.
The Bering Sea, a remote region that is often whipped by powerful winds and clogged with sea ice, is also rich in migrating salmon, cod, halibut, sea mammals and waterfowl. This bounty has enabled the Aleut and Alutiiq people of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands to rely on subsistence fishing, whaling and hunting for thousands of years.
Since the late 19th century, commercial fishing—particularly for salmon—has been a mainstay of these communities. In fact, Dr. Reedy-Maschner says, harvesting the sea is the core activity on which their cultures are based.
In the past, the handful of Aleut and Alutiiq villages that would be most directly affected by offshore drilling have largely opposed energy development in the Bering Sea. Today, Dr. Reedy-Maschner says, they are largely in favor of it. The reason is the jobs they hope it will provide.
Energy development could have important social, cultural and economic impacts on these villages, the largest of which has only 125 residents. So with support from the U.S. Department of Interior Minerals Management Service, Dr. Reedy-Maschner will soon begin a three-year study of how the Aleut and Alutiiq live today, and how offshore drilling could affect them in the future.
In other ISU news, congratulations are due to physics professor Steven Shropshire, Ph.D., and Idaho State University–Boise HIV education coordinator Judy Thorne.
Dr. Shropshire recently received the American Association of Physics Teachers' Distinguished Service Citation for exemplary efforts in physics education. He is known for the hundreds of engaging science-demonstration shows he's given at Idaho schools, and the hundreds of workshops and classes he's given for Idaho teachers on methods for teaching science.
Ms. Thorne was awarded the top honor in the educator category of the third annual Health Care Hero awards competition. The Idaho Business Review sponsors the event. Ms. Thorne received the award for her work in HIV/AIDS education, specifically with underserved populations in the Treasure Valley.
From the Aleutian Islands to western Idaho's Treasure Valley, Idaho State University is engaged in research and public service that empowers individuals to make wise choices, and to lay a solid foundation for the generations to come.
Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D.
President, Idaho State University