public radio reporter in interior Alaska covering mushing, Arctic science and happenings in the Far North

Author Archive

Stories from Space: Alaska’s Researchers Look to the Sky

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to cover a number of stories with scientists whose research takes place in the outer reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond. Here are a few links to some of those stories for your listening pleasure.

GI Space Physicist Anticipates Next Year’s Spacecraft Rendezvous with Dwarf Planet Pluto

A NASA spacecraft is headed for the outer reaches of the solar system. That’s the topic of a lecture hosted by the Geophysical Institute tonight (January 14, 2014).  The spacecraft is slated to rendezvous with Pluto in the middle of next year.

published: January 14, 2014

Rare ‘Red Lightning’ Garners National Attention

Fairbanks, AK – A graduate student from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks has garnered national media attention after he posted photos of a rare lightning-related phenomenon to his blog.

published: August 14, 2013

New Antenna Will Gather Geophysical Data For NASA

Fairbanks, AK – People who frequent the trails on the campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks may have noticed lots of construction equipment all summer long.  It’s part of a project at the Alaska Satellite Facility.  The facility is getting a new antenna this year.  In coming years, it will collect data from NASA’s polar orbiting satellites.

published: September 10, 2013

Good Aurora Forecast This Week Could Be Due to Solar Magnetic ‘Flip’

Fairbanks, AK – Geophysical Institute is forecasting strong auroras at the end of the week.  Some of that activity could be in response to changes in the suns magnetic field.  Over the next few months, the sun will undergo a magnetic flip.  Is an event that happens every eleven years, but scientists have only been able to monitor what happens at the solar poles since the 1970’s.

published: August 20, 2013


Art in the Arctic: Covering Artists and Their Work in the Far North

Side-by-side comparisons of historic photos and those taken by Ken Tape show changes to Alaska's Arctic over time.

Side-by-side comparisons of historic photos and those taken by Ken Tape show changes to Alaska’s Arctic over time.

Seeing is Believing

Ken Tape ’99 is amassing a collection of photographs that provide irrefutable evidence that climate change has affected the Alaskan Arctic.

(A story from my undergraduate alumni magazine, the Carleton College Voice.)





Artists in Residence Sets Gates of the Arctic to Music

(originally aired on the Alaska Public Radio Network’s Alaska News Nightly August 6, 2012)

Bettles, AK – America’s National Parks serve as a back drop for some of the United States’ best known artwork.  Much of that work was created long before the National Park Service established an ‘Artist in Residence’ program. One man has just completed his fourth residency in Alaska and his ninth in the United States. Emily Schwing caught up with Stephen Lias in Bettles to find out how he turns a backpacking trip on the arctic tundra into a classical music composition. photo credit:
photo credit:

An Oil Rig Arrives In Alaska, On Its Way To The Arctic (as heard on NPR)

Shell's massive oil rig arrived overnight in Unalaska Bay, near Dutch Harbor, AK

Shell’s massive oil rig arrived overnight in Unalaska Bay, near Dutch Harbor, AK

Dutch Harbor, AK – A massive oil rig, contracted by Royal Dutch Shell, has arrived in Dutch Harbor – in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. The rig is scheduled to head north into the Arctic this summer as part of an exploratory offshore drilling operation. The rig and its operation had been the target of protests, at least in the lower 48. But the residents of Dutch Harbor have had a slightly different response, as Emily Schwing of KUCB reports.

The Museum of the North: A Collection of Stories from the Basement

Kenelm Phliip collected thousand of butterfly specimens from across the arctic in his lifetime. (photo: Emily Schwing/KUAC

Kenelm Phliip collected thousand of butterfly specimens from across the arctic in his lifetime. (photo: Emily Schwing/KUAC

Museum Experts Sift through the Arctic’s Second Largest Butterfly Collection

Fairbanks, AK – It will be a few months before butterflies flit through the air in Interior Alaska, but the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska Fairbanks was recently filled with them.

The museum is working to catalogue the second-largest collection of Arctic butterflies and moths in the world. It’s the largest private collection of its kind. Eventually most of the specimens will be passed on to the Smithsonian.


yukon-dinos-4Thousands of Dinosaur Tracks Discovered Along the Yukon River

Fairbanks, AK – A trip down the Yukon River this summer yielded big results for one University of Alaska paleontologist.

[this story won second place from the Alaska Press Club in 2014 for Best Reporting on Health or Science.]




photo credit: Theresa Bakker, Museum of the North

photo credit: Theresa Bakker, Museum of the North

Thousands of New Fish Specimens Double Museum’s Collection

Fairbanks, AK – The University of Alaska, Fairbanks Museum of the North recently acquired as many as 150-thousand fish and marine invertebrate specimens from the National Marine Fisheries Service.  The acquisition means the museum’s fish collection has doubled in size.

National Native News Reporting Fellowship

In a press release this week, Koahnic Broadcast Corporation (KBC) announced the four radio reporters they chose from across the country to spotlight tribes and key issues facing tribal and native communities during the through the 2014 election season. I am very excited to be one of those reporters. Some of the stories I’m working on have also aired on KUAC in Fairbanks, as well as stations within the Alaska Public Radio Network and on National Public Radio.

Take a minute to check out some of the issues Alaska Native voters are facing by clinking the links below.

October 14, 2014: ‘Native organizations work on Get out the Native Vote efforts in Alaska’

               a version of this story was also heard here:

October 9, 2014: ‘Voters attend candidate forum in Alaska to hear about key issues’

               a version of this story was this story was also heard in Fairbanks here:

October 7, 2014: ‘Alaska Native language translators work on voting materials’

               a feature version of this story aired on NPR:

A Voice that Fascinates Humans and Lures Creatures from the Sea – From Al Jazeera America

Novoye Chaplino, Russia  — Olga Letykai took the stage this summer in her usual performance attire, dressed from head to toe in seal skin, white fur at her cuffs, beaded headband on her forehead, traditional markings on her face. For those who had never heard Letykai before, what happened next was probably a surprise. While the frigid wind on the Bering Sea coast carried along an occasional call of a seagull, that was soon joined by the unearthly — and almost indescribable — sounds of Letykai’s throat singing: deep guttural noises mixed with heavy growling and panting, followed by sharp, bird-like trills.
Read the rest here:

Thanks for the Visit


I’m probably out in the field wielding a shotgun microphone at something noisy right now, so It’s unlikely I’ve had a whole lot of time to update my blog/website/catch-all for my work.  But feel free to browse.  In the coming months, I’ll be posting old stories I’ve dug out of my personal archive. Together, we can relive a few years’ worth of long-distance sled dog racing, management decision regarding fish and game and endless discussions on affordable energy and climate change in Alaska.

Covering Conflict: Wolves in Alaska’s Denali National Park

‘Among Wolves’ Details Researcher’s Lifelong Passion 

By Emily Schwing

July 11, 2014

Earlier this year, the University of Alaska Press released a book detailing a biologist’s life-long effort to chronicle the lives of wolves that live inside the boundary of Denali Park and Preserve.

Marybeth Holleman was a friend of Doctor Gordon Haber, who was killed in a plane crash in Denali in 2009. Holleman spent the last few years digging through forty years’ worth of Haber’s field notes, journals and even tweets. Holleman has compiled Haber’s work into a new book.

Denali Wolf Management Plan Battle Continues

By Emily Schwing

January 25, 2013

Earlier this month, the Alaska Board of Game refused to lift a six-year moratorium on proposals regarding wolves in the Denali region. The moratorium was put in place after the board canceled a trapping and hunting buffer zone on the eastern border of the park in 2010.  It’s the latest in an ongoing battle between the state, environmental groups and the federal government on how best to manage wolves in Denali National Park.

Park Service Releases Survey Results For Denali Wolves

Emily Schwing

November 29, 2012

The National Park Service this week released the results of this year’s fall wolf count. The final numbers indicate that the wolf population in Denali National Park and Preserve has fallen by 61 percent since an all-time high of 147 wolves were counted in 2007.

Biologist Requests Land East Of Denali Park Be Closed To Hunting, Trapping

By Emily Schwing

November 29, 2012

Fairbanks, AK -Conservation Biologist Rick Steiner sent a request this week to Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Cora Campbell asking for an emergency order that would close state lands east of Denali National Park to hunting and trapping wolves. The season opened Nov. 1. Steiner made a similar request last May after Park Service biologists reported the dispersal of the Grant Creek Wolf Pack. The pack did not produce pups this year.

Group Files Petition To Prohibit Wolf Trapping, Hunting Along Denali Park’s Eastern Border

By Emily Schwing

October 3, 2013

Fairbanks, AK – A group of wildlife conservation organizations filed a petition for reconsideration Wednesday with the Alaska Board of Game that requests the adoption of an emergency regulation to prohibit trapping and hunting of wolves along the eastern border of Denali National Park and Preserve.

Board of Game Denies Wolf Protection Request

By Emily Schwing

October 10, 2012

Fairbanks, AK – The Alaska Board of Game will not honor a request to reconsider an emergency regulation to protect wolves along the eastern border of Denali National Park and Preserve. A handful of Wildlife advocacy groups and individuals have fielded a second petition asking to close state lands to hunting and trapping wolves near the park.