Research and Development Cluster Working Group

Dr. Daniel M. White from the Statewide Committee for Research, presents the Southeast Research & Development Cluster Working Group co-chairs, Dave D'Amore and Shannon Atkinson, with the certificate that recognizes Southeast Alaska as a Community of Excellence in Research.

The next R&D Cluster Working Group meeting is Thursday August 11 at 9AM, The one after that is on Thurs sept 1 at 9AM

NOTE: If anyone wants to participate in the R&D Cluster Working Group meetings then you can contact JEDC to be included in the distribution list.

Southeast Alaska Research and Development Action Initiatives

Cluster Co-Chairs: Dave D’Amore, USFS, and Shannon Atkinson, UAF/UAS

Impacts and Successes

  • Southeast Alaska region formally designated as a model Community of Excellence in Research.
  • Better lines of communication established between research entities in the region, leading to collaborative research programs.  
  • Creation of a first of its kind weekly seminar series to highlight regional research bring scientists, students, resource managers and industry representatives together for collaborative discussions and brainstorming.
  • Hire of a new fisheries biologist to enhance research capacity of the region.
  • Survey of community research needs and capacity undertaken and top areas of need for research identified.
  • Collaborative research program developed between USFS, University of Alaska, and industry members around utilization of yellow cedar that is dying due to climate change.


Develop a Collaborative Research Network Focused on Key Themes in Southeast Alaska 

Champion: Dave D’Amore, Pacific Northwest Research Station, USFS 

The goal of this initiative is to improve regional communication and coordination regarding research and development opportunities and needs in Southeast Alaska. This initiative is highly integrated into collaborative efforts among Federal and State agencies, the University of Alaska, and centers at both UAS and UAF. The integration of these organizations have advanced research work in climate change, carbon cycle science, fisheries, and wood products. Some key collaborations are a hydrologic study jointly undertaken by PNW Research, the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center and the BC Ministry of Forests and Natural Resource Operations. A post-doc will start work in April to model snow and streamflow across the entire region. The USGS Climate Science Center, the UAF Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning and the PNW Research Station have a collaborative agreement to model soil hydrologic conditions in the region. This project has a close link with Yellow-cedar decline related research and will provide information on soil conditions that influence productivity and health of vegetation communities. The PNW Research Station is hiring a new fisheries biologist to address the important restoration and management of salmonids in Southeast Alaska. This new position will enhance the research capacity of the region. The PNW Research Station is leading the regional carbon accounting for coastal forest region in collaboration with the USGS Landcarbon program and UAF. This study is providing the stock and flux of carbon in the region for reporting to the UN to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation around the world.

The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center (ACRC) was awarded a five-year, $500,000 Coastal Rainforest Margins Research Network grant from the National Science Foundation to facilitate scientists and stakeholders to study the interface between land and ocean, where fresh water and nutrients flow downstream from coastal watersheds into the nearshore marine environment. The goal is to leverage the research network into other collaboration opportunities. You can join the list serve and find more information at:

Become State Committee on Research (SCoR) Designated “Community of Excellence in Research”

Champion:  Shannon Atkinson, UAF/UAS 

To Build a Fire: The Alaska Science and Technology Plan, developed by the State Committee on Research (SCoR), is an important step in giving direction to the critical research effort needed for science and technology innovation that will insure Alaska’s continued prosperity. Key to the plan’s ultimate success will be cooperation between government, academia, research groups, businesses, and nonprofit organizations in implementing the policy directives outlined in the Report. The purpose of this initiative is to establish recognition for Southeast Alaska, through the Research and Development Cluster Working Group, as a model for coordination of research entities and engagement of industry and educational leaders in promoting research and innovative development in the region. The R&D Cluster Working Group, is a model of cooperation that can be used to solve problems and identify opportunities for SCoR implementation. The effort is grass-rooted in the individuals and businesses that engage and have a vested interest in the research community. In 2015, the R&D working group Co-chairs submitted a formal request to SCoR and received notification of recognition as Alaska’s first “Community of Excellence in Research” on September 2, 2015. Certificates of designation have been put on display at the Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute (TSMRI), UAS, the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences Juneau campus, Sitka Sound Science Center, and the USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Read more in this article published in the Juneau Empire:

Connect Research to Communities 

Champion: Jim Powell, University of Alaska Southeast 

Led by University of Alaska Southeast, a short survey was conducted in Southeast Alaska to provide some insight into what types of research are being conducted in the Eastern Gulf of Alaska and what research could benefit communities in the region. The survey was intended to also strengthen awareness of community research needs and create baseline information for connecting researchers with community issues. In 2013, a draft survey was developed and piloted to determine what types of research was being conducted in communities across SE. Informed by the pilot survey, in early 2014 the survey was revised and a strategy for conducting the survey was developed. The purpose of the survey was to determine what and where research is being collected, community capacity for conducting research, and ultimately to determine what research is needed in Southeast Alaska. Survey responses were collected in 2014 from 40 respondents with 18 of the 33 communities represented. A final report has been released and is available on this website. There are several findings regarding research areas that are of interest to communities. The top three community research interests are fisheries, alternative energy, and economy. Communities reported several research areas including: timber, alternative energy, agriculture, tourism, and the ferry systems. Communities reported a lack of adequate research facilities, workforce, and accommodations. This initiative has been retired with the release of the report.

Link industry needs to local researchers in Southeast Alaska 

Champion: Vacant 

The goal of this initiative is to leverage existing networks and create new ones in order to raise awareness among community stakeholders of the diverse capabilities and availability of research in our region.  Initially, this initiative focused on the small-scale timber industry in Southeast Alaska, investigating the potential for local mills to create value-added products from yellow-cedar trees killed by long-term changes in weather patterns. The PNW Research Station, Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, the State of Alaska Division of Forestry and DCCED are collaborating on a project to explore the feasibility of utilizing dead yellow-cedar in Southeast Alaskan forests as a source of highly valuable wood. This initiative is a critical to support small mill operations in Southeast Alaska and maintain a valuable supply vector for these operations. 

Market the Unique Geographic, Natural and Infrastructure Features of our Region 

Champion: Allison Bidlack, Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center 

The objective of this initiative is to strengthen relationships within the existing regional network of research facilities in Southeast Alaska, elevate network visibility and profiles, make improvements in local infrastructure, and adopt institutional practices that allow sharing of facilities and logistics support.  The initiative has begun work on a first of its kind asset map of research facilities and capabilities in Southeast Alaska.

Promote STEM Education in our Region 

Champions: JEDC STEM AK and Sitka Sound Science Center 

  • The goal of this initiative is to augment STEM literacy in the regional education system by expanding STEM out-of-school learning opportunities for K-12 and post-secondary students. The vision is for more local research scientists to play a role in delivering STEM education. One vehicle identified to integrate STEM professionals into school programs and into classrooms is through an Engineering is Elementary (EiE) curriculum and after-school through a 21st Century grant with support of JEDC and the Juneau School District. The STEM outreach efforts of the Sitka Sound Science Center will be looked at as an excellent example of STEM outreach into the local schools which could be replicated in other communities.