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Coast Guard Academy honors UAF Professor



Fairbanks, Alaska—The U.S. Coast Guard Academy named University of Alaska Fairbanks geography professor Lawson Brigham as its 2010 distinguished alumnus of the year, the highest honor bestowed by the academy. The award was presented by Rear Adm. Richard Larrabee, USCGA Alumni Association chairman of the board, at a ceremony at the academy in New London, Conn., last month.

“Your Coast Guard experience, research and service to commissions and panels around the world have enable you to become a preeminent authority on the Arctic as it remains a bellwether of climate change,” Larrabee said. “In all your polar work with international maritime and scientific communities you have reflected great pride on your alma mater.”

After graduating from the academy in 1970, Brigham went on to command four Coast Guard cutters. He worked with all of the world’s icebreaker services and sailed aboard Canadian, Russian, Swedish and Finnish icebreakers. Brigham was the commandant’s chief strategic planner and led a large personnel study, the Coast Guard’s Work-Life Study. He was a distinguished science faculty member, head sailing coach at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a marine policy fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Brigham earned a doctorate at the University of Cambridge and served on many arctic and Antarctic panels and commissions, led the Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2005-09 and served aboard polar icebreakers in more than 20 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. He was one of the signers of the American Geographical Society’s Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe in 2008, joining the signatures of Sir Edmund Hillary, Neil Armstrong and Amelia Earhart. He served as commanding officer of the icebreaker Polar Sea, the first ship in history to reach the ends of the global ocean at the North Pole in 1994, deep in the Ross Sea.

UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Dean Carol Lewis said of Brigham’s award, “I am extremely pleased and proud that Lawson is part of our school. His distinguished service and record have enhanced our work in arctic policy and set us up for the future as we look for new challenges of navigable waters within the arctic seas.”
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