Applied Environmental Research Center

Denali National Park

The Applied Environmental Research Center (AERC) is one of 8 centers of the UAA Business Enterprise Institute (UAA BEI). The AERC mission is to collect, analyze and apply environmental, natural and cultural resource data for optimal management of public lands. Our current scope of work includes active and formerly used defense sites in Alaska, Hawai'i, Japan, Korea and the Pacific Islands. We anticipate broadening services and activities to include other public land owners and managers.


Specifically AERC provides technical assistance as well as applied research, including:

  • Collecting natural and cultural resources data
  • Applying environmental data to assist managers of natural and cultural resources
  • Providing the best research, data and analytical tools for public land use and resource management
  • Identifying potential pollutants of air, water, and soil, and determining mechanisms to prevent their introduction into ecosystems

AERC was established January 2014 and is entirely self-supporting. In our first 7 months of activity, we have successfully achieved leverage of over $800 thousand in external contracts and will exceed over $1 million in the next quarter. Based on our managed startup plan, we intentionally have accepted only a small number of task orders in order to build staff and institutional infrastructure. We anticipate significant growth of projects within the next year as we achieve capacity targets.

AERC Landscape

Our innovative business model and streamlined internal structure uniquely positions the University of Alaska as a service broker for environmental expertise and research capability. Ultimately, AERC will diversify its clients to include other federal, state and private sector organizations and firms.

Positive outcomes:

  • Exemplifies a self-supporting unit receiving no general fund base
  • Employs University of Alaska faculty, staff and students via applied research activities
  • Engages local and Alaska-based businesses in new partnerships with the University of Alaska
  • Utilizes a sustainable model already generating substantial new revenue to the University of Alaska
  • Links client needs with in-state services of Alaskan experts and enterprises through a Cooperative Agreement between the university and the US Army Corps of Engineers
  • Creates a new and active relationship with the military sector in Alaska through the Army Corps of Engineers
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