BIOL 495/695: Arctic Alaska Vegetation, Permafrost, & Ecosystems

UAF summer 2020 field courses have been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We hope to offer the course again in Summer 2021.

Course Information

Our summer field course is offered through UAF Summer Sessions & Lifelong Learning.


Dr. D.A. (Skip) Walker, Dr. Amy Breen, and Dr. G.V. (JJ) Frost

Begin your adventure!

Course Description

Open to undergraduate and graduate students interested in Arctic biology and ecology, the 3-credit course will be held June 8-24, 2020.

The class includes 2 days of classroom instruction and local field trips in the Fairbanks area before a 13-day field excursion to Alaska's North Slope. The course wraps up back at UAF with 2 days for student presentations and local field trips in Fairbanks.

The field excursion will have a strong emphasis on Arctic environments, local people, and field sampling. Students will learn about Arctic vegetation, soils, landforms, permafrost, geology, wildlife, and land-use. The class will travel along the latitudinal transect from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay, which traverses boreal forest, alpine, and Arctic biomes. Students will undertake an independent research project of their choosing.

Eleven days will be spent camping at different locations along the route. We will also spend a night at Toolik Field Station, a world-renowned Arctic research station. Guest instructors will discuss Arctic ecology, permafrost, life in Arctic communities, and environmental issues related to oilfield development and other aspects of Arctic social-ecological systems.

The cost of transportation and meals during the field excursion is included in the course fee, as well as lodging at Toolik Field Station and on UAF’s campus. (Students are responsible for meals during the 4-day campus portion of the course.) Students will need to bring all-weather clothing including winter jackets and rubber boots, and a warm sleeping bag. Expedition tents will be provided. 
The course is limited to 10 undergraduate and/or graduate students. Pre-requisites include Two semesters of college-level science with one upper-division science course, or permission of the instructor.

A $250 non-refundable deposit is required by  April 15, 2020. The balance of the course payment is due May 15. Students are encouraged to consider the purchase of travel insurance.

How to Register

  1. Obtain permission of the instructor (or request more information) from: Dr. D. A. (Skip) Walker, dawalker@alaska.edu
  2. If your prerequisites were not completed at a University of Alaska location, email proof of prerequisites to dawalker@alaska.edu and cc: summer@uaf.edu
  3. Complete your registration using UAF Summer Sessions Online Registration Form. Undergraduates should register for BIOL F495 F01. Graduate students should regsiter for BIOL F695 F01. Registration opens February 10 (or February 24 for non-degree seeking students).
  4. International students: Submit an international summer student application and supporting documents.
  5. Send a $250 non-refundable deposit by April 15, 2020, and pay the balance by May 15, 2020.


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The Alaska Geobotany Center at the Institute for Arctic Biology at UAF is dedicated to understanding northern ecosystems and Arctic land-use conservation issues through the use of geographic information systems, remote sensing, field experiments, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Educating and training students in Arctic vegetation field skills and analysis is a key part of its mission. Recent research has focused on the effects of infrastructure and climate change on landscape and permafrost in Alaska and Russia.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. UAF is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and educational institution.

Last modified April 2, 2020