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Begich Praises Sharpton Appointment to Chair Arctic Research Commission

U.S. Senator Mark Begich today praised the appointment of Fairbanksan Dr. Virgil "Buck" Sharpton as acting chairman of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, a federal entity charged with coordinating and advocating national Arctic policy. President Barack Obama appointed Sharpton to the position Friday, an appointment recommended by Begich.

"As America's only Arctic state, it's essential that an Alaskan with both scientific and on-the-ground knowledge of the rapid changes underway in the north chair the federal government's key agency with responsibility for the Arctic," Begich said. "Buck is a nationally known scientist who will do an excellent job helping shape national policy in this important part of the world."

Since May 2006, Sharpton has been vice chancellor for research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he helps shape UAF's research agenda. He also is founder and director of the Geographic Information Network of Alaska. Prior to joining UAF in 1998, Sharpton was a senior staff scientist at the Lunar Planetary Institute affiliated with the NASA Johnson Space Center.

He holds doctorate and master's degrees in geological sciences from Brown University.

Sharpton was appointed to the Arctic Research Commission by President Bush in 2008. As acting chair, he replaces Mead Treadwell who resigned. Created in 1984, the seven-member Commission establishes national Arctic policy working with Congress and the president and interacts with Arctic residents and other institutions dealing with Arctic policy.

In June, President Obama appointed Mary Pete of Bethel, director of the Kuskokwim campus of the University of Alaska, to the Commission at the recommendation of Sen. Begich.

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