Our Team

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Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Matthew Sturm, Ph.D., Our Winter World project leader

The U.S. Coast Guard brought Matthew to the Aleutian Islands in 1973 and, with the exception of four years of college, he has been in Alaska ever since.  He is currently a Professor of Geophysics and Chair of the Snow, Ice, and Permafrost Group at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he studies snow. Matthew has authored more than a hundred technical articles and several books, including a children’s book, on snow and ice in the Arctic. He is a veteran of more than 25 long winter research expeditions that have spanned the state. Boating on the rivers of Interior Alaska has been his passion for more than 30 years, during which time he has run everything from a Zodiac with 25 HP outboard to a high performance in-board jet boat. Matthew and his wife Betsy, a retired second grade teacher, have two grown children. They live near Fox, Alaska with their two dogs.

Anika Pinzner, Our Winter World project team member

Anika is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Geosciences at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. She is using a combination of airborne and on-the-ground measurements and observations to study the reflectivity of snow during the melt season in Utqiaġvik, Alaska. She is also trying to understand how snowcovers on streams affect water temperatures and therefore salmon-egg survival in the State. Growing up in a small town in southern Germany, Anika has come to love the North during visits to Greenland, Svalbard, and Alaska as well her time living in Denmark and Sweden where she received her MSc degree in Environmental Sciences (UCPH & SLU). Her Master’s thesis focused on contaminants in snow, trace metals such as arsenic and lead but also light-absorbing particles such as soot. Anika’s favorite way of spending her time is being outdoors with friends. Floating glacial rivers, fat biking on snowy trails, or hiking to high-mountain lakes, her dog Poquontchn accompanies her on all adventures.

Maria Berger, Our Winter World project team member

Maria joined the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute as a science educator/ outreach specialist in January 2020. Prior to that, she worked for six years as an education specialist with the National Park Service in Fairbanks, Alaska and with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska. She came to Alaska “temporarily” to work at Denali National Park and Preserve in 2011 but was so captivated with the landscape, way of life, and friendly people that she is still here nine years later. She loves snow and counts cross-country skiing and dog mushing among her favorite outdoor pursuits.

Margaret Rudolf, Hot Times in Cold Places project team member

Margaret is Iñupiaq, born and raised in Alaska. She holds a Master’s Degree in Arctic Engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is currently studying co-production of knowledge methodology as an interdisciplinary Ph.D. student. Her experience in education includes completing the Science Teaching and Outreach certificate program, participating in a science outreach fellowship at a Fairbanks high school, and several years as a science summer camp instructor. Margaret played a key role in a previous (2014-2019) NSF-funded informal science learning project related to permafrost, Hot Times in Cold Places: Permafrost During Climate Change. She continues to contribute her experience and abilities to the Our Winter World project team as an unofficial consultant.  

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

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Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

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Goldstream Group, Inc.

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