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New Faces at ACRC

ACRC welcomes new research faculty member, interdisciplinary scientist Jim Powell

As a center dedicated to interdisciplinary science in support of resilient communities and ecosystems, we are excited to announce the addition of UAS assistant professor of public administration Jim Powell to the ACRC team. Powell brings his decades of experience in natural resources and adaptive governance to our group, with a focus on how local governments are adapting to climate change.

Powell has a comprehensive background in technical and policy positions in the state, including managing environmental and natural resource programs at the Department of Environmental Conservation. Powell’s interest in local governance led him to run for public office and consequently, he served three terms on the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly including three years as Deputy Mayor. Currently, Powell serves on Juneau’s Sustainability Commission and teaches natural resources and local government classes in the UAS MPA program.

Jim Powell“What I focus on now is how governments (usually local governments) are changing, adapting, and becoming more resilient. I taught for 6 years during which time I’ve had opportunities to do research, and found I like it. That’s why I’ve gone this route,” said Powell of his choice to join ACRC.

Powell will be working on several projects related to climate impacts to Southeast Alaska and around the state, including a National Science Foundation grant with UAF and UAA researchers to study permafrost, freeze/thaw, and wildfire impacts to Fairbanks, Anchorage, and Whitehorse. He is also working on comparative studies in Sweden and the Yukon on tourism impacts and climate change. He will also be working with the City and Borough of Juneau to update a report on climate predictions for the city, with implications for sustainability and adaptation measures.

Powell will also be using his experience studying government-level response to change to lead research efforts on the impacts of COVID-19 to Juneau and Southeast Alaska. Powell has convened an interdisciplinary team of epidemiologists, economists, and social scientists to investigate how the pandemic is affecting healthcare systems, indigenous communities, government function, social dynamics, tourism, and the local economy.

Powell balances his teaching and research with serving on nonprofit boards and consults with local communities on environmental issues and sustainability planning.

“I’m looking forward to the team approach that [ACRC’s director] Allison has created, and to learn from the other ACRC scientists. It’ll be really fun and enriching to be part of an interdisciplinary pursuit,” said Powell. When not working Powell is cross country skiing, biking, hiking, and gardening.