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Looking North - April 6, 2017


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Looking North is a free service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. News organizations are free to use stories and any multimedia items as-is with attribution or use the content to develop their own stories. Questions, comments or change-of-address information can be sent to uaf-news@alaska.edu.

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Fascination with light keeps Karlsson focused on northern horticulture

Fascination with light keeps Karlsson focused on northern horticulture

Meriam Karlsson grew up on a small dairy farm in southern Sweden, where her family raised hay, barley and oats for a herd of 20 to 30 cows.

Agriculture seemed like a logical career path, but Karlsson found plants and crop production more compelling than animals, so she studied horticulture in Sweden and at Michigan State University. While earning her doctorate, she became interested in the effects of temperature and light on plants, particularly flowering plants produced in greenhouses.

The horticulture professor has continued work in this area for nearly 30 years at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The extreme day lengths and short field seasons in Alaska intrigued her from the start, and they still do.

“It made sense to study lights and temperatures in Alaska,” she said.

Read more.

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Geophysical Institute's Foss soars in design competition

Geophysical Institute's Foss soars in design competition

For several days in a row last September, Hannah Foss kept seeing the same ad pop up in her Facebook feed. It was an invitation to design the livery — the decorative paint job on the outside of an airplane — for a new Hainan Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The design was supposed to use characters from DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda films, and the prize for the first-place design was an all-expenses-paid trip to China.

"I scrolled past it a few times,” Foss said, “but eventually I had a few free evenings, so I said, ‘Why not?'"

Foss had a major advantage. She's a graphic designer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and she knew what she was doing.

The entry process was all online. Hainan's contest website used a 3D model plane and offered different sets of Kung Fu Panda character images to choose from. It was more of a design project than a drawing project, Foss said, because you had to use their design elements, not draw the airplane and characters from scratch. She ended up submitting three designs, adding to more than 200,000 entries Hainan received from the U.S. and Canada.

She didn't think she had much of a chance. “I definitely wasn’t expecting any word back. I didn’t want to get my hopes up,” Foss said.

A few weeks later, she got an email from the Hainan marketing staff. "They said 'Oh, you won the thing!' I was like, 'Oh, cool!'"

Read more.

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