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Media Advisory 09-001

NSF Invites Media to Apply for Arctic Reporting Slots on Bering Sea Research Cruise

NSF, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, North Pacific Research Board issue joint invitation

Photo of U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, the Healy, in Arctic ice.

The USCGC Healy in Arctic ice

January 27, 2009

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is accepting written requests from professional journalists to report in mid-March from a Bering Sea Ecosystem Program (BEST)/Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Program (BSIERP) research cruise aboard the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, the Healy.

Selected journalists will deploy to the Arctic for approximately one working week between March 15 and March 25.

This research will be conducted aboard the Healy, a 429-foot icebreaker specifically designed to conduct scientific research. Scientists aboard Healy will study the late-winter distribution of walruses--through surveys and satellite tagging operations--in relation to apparently decreasing food supplies on the sea floor. Scientists will also be studying spectacled eider and other seabird distributions, as well as sea ice characteristics and oceanography using, among other techniques, deployments on the ice to collect core samples; seawater sampling; plankton collection; and seafloor sampling.

The cruise will be one of the last NSF-funded science deployments to occur during the International Polar Year 2007-2009 (IPY). NSF is the lead U.S. agency for IPY.

The BEST and BSIERP programs are focused on analyzing the ecological response of the Bering Sea to decreases in seasonal sea ice and other shifts that may be driven by changing climate.  Additional information is available at: and

How to apply: Applicants must submit the equivalent of two printed pages detailing specifically who their audience is and why they are interested in covering this research cruise. NSF, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), and the North Pacific Research Board (NPRB) public affairs officers can help applicants craft a proposed reporting plan that has the best chance of meeting minimum criteria.

Competition is expected to be intense for a limited number of slots. U.S. media are given preference in selection.

A committee of science and logistics personnel and media officers from NSF, UMCES, and NPRB reviews all proposals and selects finalists. The committee will look for proposals that indicate an understanding of the nature and challenges of NSF's scientific enterprise in the Arctic and the desire and ability to communicate that understanding to the public.

Application Deadline: Feb. 9, 2009.

Application: Focused applications with thorough reporting plans that indicate solid working knowledge of U.S. Arctic research and the BEST/BSIERP science goals stand the best chance of selection.

Expenses: Reporters or their employers pay for round-trip transportation to Gambell or Savoonga, Alaska (on St. Lawrence Island) by commercial carrier. Overnight accommodations are likely to be necessary in Nome, Gambell or Savoonga at the applicant's expense. Flexibility is required in case of weather delays, which are not infrequent. It is anticipated that successful applicants will be picked up and dropped off by a helicopter based on the ship. NSF furnishes berthing and food aboard the Healy and, if necessary, cold-weather clothing, solely for use in the field.

Medical requirements: All personnel will be required to file a medical questionnaire before boarding the ship, available at

How to Apply: Contact NSF, UMCES or the NPRB by phone or by e-mail) as soon as possible to express intent to apply and to discuss areas of professional interest. Freelancers must supply evidence of a firm commitment from a prospective employer to publish or air their work.


Media Contacts
Peter West, NSF, (703) 292-7761, email:
Christopher Conner, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, (443) 496-0095, email:

Principal Investigators
Lee Cooper, Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, (410) 326 7359, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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