2016 ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering Endowment Awardees

The four winning projects—chosen out of 29 proposals after a rigorous evaluation process by a committee comprised of UAA staff—will receive a total of approximately $280,000 for fiscal year 2016. Projects funded through the first distribution of the ConocoPhillips Arctic Science and Engineering endowment include:

Accelerated Corrosion Under Insulation (CUI) Test Apparatus
(Matthew Cullin)
Funds will be used to design, build and test an apparatus that will allow for the non-destructive characterization of CUI in legacy pipe samples under simulated and accelerated atmospheric exposure conditions. CUI presents a significant threat to the integrity of oil and gas infrastructure in cold climate locations. Approximately 40-60 percent of pipeline maintenance costs are related to CUI. Inspection and remediation are expensive and, under some circumstances, unreliable. This apparatus will allow faculty and students at UAA to determine the mechanisms and rates of CUI under real conditions and to evaluate remedial solutions for known problem locations on hydrocarbon transport lines (i.e., weld packs, saddle locations, etc.).

The Impacts of Plastic on Western Aleutian Island Seabirds: Detection of Phthalates in Muscle and Embryonic Tissues
(Douglas Causey and Aaron Dotson)
The objective for this research is to build a foundation of knowledge of phthalate exposure in Bering Sea seabirds that leads to better understanding of their correlative effect on seabird reproduction and survival, population dynamics, and, more broadly, ecosystem health. In the United States, plastic materials are manufactured from hydrocarbon gas liquids (HGL) and natural gas, and humans use these plastic materials for various purposes. Plastics have transformed the way humans live since they are an optimal medium used in many consumer products because they are lightweight, durable, inexpensive, and good insulating materials. In addition, plastic is disposable, and plastic debris is making a large impact on the environment. The plastic debris that enters the Pacific Ocean eventually reaches the seabird communities of the Bering Sea. Seabirds mistake the plastic debris for prey items, ingest them and consequently are exposed to numerous chemical adjuncts, particularly endocrine-disrupting compounds like phthalates. We do not know the full extent of phthalate exposure in seabirds, nor do we know well their consequent effects on seabird health.

Snow Cover in Alaska: Comprehensive Review
(Gennady Gieko with Scott Hamel and Rob Lang)
Structural engineers rely on published ground snow load values to calculate the forces for which their structures must be designed. Outside major cities in Alaska, these load values were most recently published in 1994, more than 20 years ago. This project will assemble depth and weight data available from various recording agencies and centers (such as the National Weather Service, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Snow and Ice Data Center) to update the probability-based ground snow load values for as many Alaskan locations as are available. In addition, sites record both weight (or snow water equivalent) and depth will be used to evaluate the existing characterizations of snow density in Alaska.

Petroleum Geology at UAA: Geophysics Faculty and ConocoPhillips Subsurface Laboratory Support
(LeeAnn Munk, Jennifer Aschoff, Matt Reeves, and Erin Shea)
Funds will be used to support the research start-up of a new geophysics faculty member and associated subsurface laboratory. These funds will improve the ability to conduct research in subsurface geophysics and educate students in myriad subspecialties in geology, including but not limited to: subsurface interpretation, petroleum geology, and 3-D image interpretation. These skills will provide valuable preparation for students seeking careers in the petroleum industry and/or graduate studies.