In November, Alaska lost a widely respected researcher. Dave Klein was a game biologist who began his work when Alaska was a territory. He was also a seminal professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, mentoring and minting scores of graduate students into scientific colleagues. Oral historian and author Karen Brewster collaborated with Dave on The Making of An Ecologist from University of Alaska Press. I talk with her about Klein, her other works, and the importance of oral history.
I learned this afternoon that Terrence Cole passed away earlier today. He was a friend and mentor for me and for many. Lively and curious as a researcher, professor and fundamentally as a human being, Terrence was also the wonderfully chaotic presence on KUAC’s Any Old Time shows when he and his twin Dermot along with family and friends would spin tunes, jokes and yarns in equal measure. That vivacity of spirit wasn’t dimmed when he learned he had inoperable cancer. When I heard he had entered hospice, I put together this tribute from an interview I had with him and Dermot two years ago.
Finally, in his unflinching acceptance of both life and his terminal condition he brought to mind these lines from T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Dry Salvages.”
At the moment which is not of action or inaction
You can receive this: “on whatever sphere of being
The mind of a man may be intent
At the time of death”—that is the one action
(And the time of death is every moment)
Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
And do not think of the fruit of action.
O voyagers, O seamen,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies
Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
Or whatever event, this is your real destination.’
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle.
Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.
Last month brought hard news. First, one of my favorite authors died unexpectedly from a brain tumor. Sherry Simpson was funny, genuine and penned thoughtful and elegantly wrought works about Alaska. She was 60 years old. Sherry’s friend and colleague Frank Soos talks about her life and work.
Days after learning about her death, I heard about another passing. Although Will Harrison wasn’t a friend, I had the good fortune of talking with him three years ago. There aren’t many nuclear physicists who switch careers to study glaciers. We hear from Will and from a former graduate student who continues glacier research at UAF’s Geophysical Institute, Martin Truffer.
Last week I learned the gifted and humble ultra-marathoner Drew Harrington passed away. I talked with Drew two years ago on the eve of the Equinox Marathon. Drew was rescovering from surgery and treatment for a brain tumor. He was optimistic, but last week he succumbed to the illness. He was 40. In memory, we revisit that conversation.
Also on the show, forest fires have always been vital to eco-systems, but they can be deadly to humans living in our near dense woods. A new film examines the challenges to residents who lost homes in 2019’s McKinley Fire. We hear from researcher Jennifer Schmidt and storyteller Amanda Byrd about their project. It was funded by UA EPSCoR and UAF’s Alaska Center for Energy and Power.
Nothing about this presidential election has been routine. The uncertainty has many fixed on poll numbers. In with analysis are commentators Nate Bauer who directs the UA Press and UAF Political Scientist Alexander Hirsch.