From the Small, Great Things

Joan Braddock

Dr Joan Braddock

I continue my University of Alaska Fairbanks Summer Sessions series of conversations with microbiologist and oceanographer Dr Joan Braddock. She spent years examining the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Much of that research looked at bioremediation. But she also played an important role in leadership at UAF. And she is one of the school’s few academics or administrators who also attended the school for undergraduate and graduate work.


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Art, Science and Animals

Aldona Jonaitis and Finnegan

Aldona Jonaitis and Finnegan

Every year UAF’s Summer Sessions puts on a wide range of free events for the public, including concerts and talks. By luck, I have an opportunity to play a small part in the programs, by talking with interesting people about their lives and passions.  Every Monday night in a series called “Down Memory Lane” I speak with retired faculty who helped give shape to the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  This summer I’m recording those conversations and presenting them in a special weekly series of Northern Soundings.

Last week I spoke with Dr Aldona Jonaitis. As Director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, she brought vision, energy and entrepreneurial skills to bear for over twenty years. She helmed a multi-million-dollar expansion of the museum and transformed the skyline of the University. And her annual chocolate fundraising events were the talk and envy of the community. I began my conversation by asking whether she recalls the first time she was struck by beauty.

And Chris Lott is in with another Katexic Clippings.


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A Provocative Quietist


On the show this week: Rev. Dr Nancy James is an Episcopal priest who serves as chaplain at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. She’s also a scholar and author specializing in the 17th-century mystic Madame Jeanne Guyon. James says while Guyon is not well known today, in the late 17th and early 18th centuries she was popular and drew an international readership. Guyon’s independence and writings on interior prayer also attracted the ire of Roman Catholic prelates and King Louis XIV. As a result, Guyon was imprisoned in the Bastille and branded an enemy of the state. While she was eventually cleared of charges,  Guyon’s works remain on the Vatican’s Index of Prohibited Books.

Also on the show, KUAC reviewer and author Frank Soos is in with a look at David Quammen’s latest work The Tangled Tree.

The Metal Woodwind


On this week’s show, I talk with Dorli McWayne, a faculty member of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Music Department, principle flutist for the Fairbanks Symphony and Arctic Chamber Orchestras, and founder and director of the Fairbanks Flutists. She explains the history of her instrument and the range of compositions her ensemble performs. The Fairbanks Flutists are giving a performance this Saturday at 8 PM at the Davis Concert Hall.

I chat with UAF mathematics professor and KUAC’s Math-Guy John Gimbel about geometry’s influence on political thinkers and some of the founders of our nation.

And Chris Lott is in with another episode of Katexic Clippings.

An Examined Life

courtesy of Paul Krejci

Rudy and Paul Krejci.

Seventy years ago, almost exactly to this day, secret police spotted a young Czech publically distributing anti-communist pamphlets in his country. As a result, Rudy Krejci was forced into hiding for five years and into a daring escape to Austria.

On this Northern Soundings we pay tribute to Rudy who earned a doctorate in philosophy and eventually became a leading champion of free speech and thought at the Unversity of Alaska Fairbanks. Rudy passed away last December and a celebration of his life is planned for this Sunday from 2 to 7 p.m. at the Dog Mushers’ Hall in Fairbanks.

I had the priviledge of interviewing him two years ago for UAF Summer Sessions. Part of today’s show is taken from that discussion. He is also the subject of a wonderful short documentary by the author Dan O’Neill.

In this show, I also talk with Rudy’s son Dr. Paul Krejci, who teaches at UAF. Paul is a gifted musician who contributed piano renditions by Czech composers for the O’Neill documentary. My thanks to Paul for permission to use those pieces for this Northern Soundings.


Hands On Learning

John Profile Image

Folk School Fairbanks founder John Manthei

On this week’s show, I talk with John Manthei, one of the founders of Folk School Fairbanks. The non-profit organization dedicated to hands-on learning has a new home at Pioneer Park.

Author and reviewer Frank Soos looks at a new work What A Fish Knows that disabuses readers about the cognitive abilities of fish.

And Chris Lott is in with a folksy edition of Katexic Clippings.


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The Japanese Experience in Alaska

Ron Inouye Image

Educator, archivist, and oral historian, Ron Inouye discusses Japanese influence in  Alaska history and shares his family’s experience during World War II when more than one hundred thousand Japanese-Americans were put in concentration camps.

And Chris Lott in Katexic Clippings points out some Japanese terms we use in our conversations, and others that would enrich English.


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Accountability and the Blogger


This show, columnist and blogger Dermot Cole explains the importance of holding elected officials accountable.

Anchorage Museum Director Julie Decker is the author and editor of several volumes. She says the arts don’t get a pass on commenting about troubled times.

KUAC poster artist Guy Gaswint shares how he fell into painting through the KUAC series Into the Woods.

All that and Katexic Clippings’ Chris Lott listens in on museum lingo. I hope you’ll join us.


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Entreprenuerial Journalism

Hakata, Fukuoka

Zen Temple Hakata, Fukuoka by Richard Murphy Photo used by permission

This episode we explore journalism past, present, and future with Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Richard Murphy who served as the Photo Editor for the Anchorage Daily News for many years.

As the Arctic grows in strategic importance, Brandon Boylan, a political science professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and co-director of the school’s Arctic and Northern Studies program, discusses the role of the Arctic Council and a model of the council on the UAF campus.

And speaking of strategic, UAF geography professor Cary De Wit explains how Yemen’s location has attracted regional and global players in its civil war.

And Katexic Clippings’ Chris Lott is in to politely unpack the rich history of the word “nice.”

There and Back Again


Reading has always been an important activity in my life. Of course, “activity” may not rightly describe sitting in a comfortable chair with a good book. However, it is a pleasure 32 million Americans can’t share. This episode I talk with Literacy Council of Alaska Executive Director Mike Kolasa about the organization and his background.

Speaking of books: Homer’s Odyssey is one of the enduring classics of world literature. Far from a dusty tome, it continually spurs fresh approaches and inspires new creations. UAF Professor Emeritus and writer Frank Soos, looks at several recent works that take it up, including Daniel Mendelsohn’s memoir, Madeline Miller’s fictional embellishment Circe, and Emily Wilson’s ground-breaking translation.

And Katexic ClippingsChris Lott heeds the sirens song this episode.


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