Polar Careers: Emily Roseberry of UMIAQ, Inc.

Emily Rosebery is
Emily Rosebery is

Emily Roseberry’s Arctic roots grow deep. Born and raised in Barrow, Alaska, Roseberry is the daughter of an Inupiaq whaling captain. As such, she says she was raised learning traditional knowledge and, consequently, Arctic stewardship, which makes her the perfect choice for CPS’ new (as of April, 2012) Science Logistics Manager through UMIAQ (Ukpeaġvik Inupiat Corporation).

“I grew up within the Arctic visiting family campsites along the Chipp River with other families on a seasonal basis and was raised with our Inupiaq values and traditional knowledge. My connection to the Arctic environment and my community is tied to the strong cultural upbringing I was raised in.  The Arctic truly has its own unique beauty and the rich family and cultural memories associated with our environment and traditional seasonal activities [makes it] the place for me to call home,” Roseberry writes.

Travels afield

At age 18 Roseberry left Alaska. For twelve years she and her husband lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Roseberry earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Oral Roberts University in 1998.

“Science offered the opportunity of further growth and learning. Biology was a natural choice as I grew up in a subsistence family and learned the processes of preparing animals for food and knowing the anatomy of animals was beneficial in learning more in depth knowledge of animals,” Roseberry says.


In 2000 the couple returned to Barrow. With three small children in tow, Roseberry became passionate about teaching in her community and ultimately earned her Masters in Education in Curriculum and Instruction in 2010 from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

Roseberry worked as a science teacher in the small North Slope village of Anaktuvuk Pass and in Barrow from 2001 to 2011. She received a second Masters in Education Leadership from University of Alaska Southeast in 2012 and expects to return to graduate school for a doctoral degree in the near future.

From the classroom to the field

Roseberry currently manages CPS’s science support - resources, facilities, and staff (including trained bear guards) - available to research teams working in and around Barrow. Despite the challenges associated with Barrow’s often disagreeable weather, Roseberry says her team is ready to assist and enable science groups no matter what time of year they choose to visit the North Slope.

“Dense fogs can roll in off the ocean during the summer and winter which reduces visibility.  Visibility is important for polar bear scouting.  We have trained bear guards that monitor research sites specifically to scout for bears and other arctic animals.  The extreme cold weather in the winter can make work challenging.  However there are several researchers who tackle their investigations during our winter season and we are here to help them,” Roseberry says.

Linking the scientific and local communities

Roseberry also acts as liaison between Barrow’s omnipresent scientist population and the community, communicating the details of science projects to community organizations like the Barrow Whaling Captain’s Association. She also helps mitigate any potential science impacts to the community or to traditional subsistence activities - especially those related to the bowhead whale.

Roseberry also helps facilitate outreach opportunities for visiting scientists at local schools and helped judge this year’s Barrow High School annual science fair (March 5, 2013), an event she encourages scientists to participate in as well.

“Ultimately, I hope to foster student engagement and interactions with scientists and their research projects as well as expand science opportunities for students through exchange programs and various venues,” says Roseberry.


One of Roseberry’s favorite projects is acting as Barrow’s ambassador for the NSF-sponsored Joint Science Education Program (JSEP), a collaborative effort between Greenlandic, Danish, and U.S. governments meant to “educate and inspire the next generation of polar scientists.” Roseberry informs students of JSEP opportunities by promoting the program in science classrooms.

Fostering stewardship

She says she is encouraged by the level of interest and hopes to bring awareness of similar programs to the community. Meanwhile, she hopes Barrow’s students will eventually adopt their own sense of Arctic stewardship – something she feels is currently lacking.

“I believe the challenges our Arctic communities face today relate to integrating our Inupiaq traditions with today’s widespread Western influences,” Roseberry says. The involvement of minority students and, especially, our indigenous students in an NSF program would enrich the student base as well as ensuring that students from our unique community have been supported in their growth in science. Students would give back to the community hopefully by choosing to engage in science-related careers.”

Never met a stranger

You’ll find Roseberry talking with everyone in Barrow about Arctic science – something she believes in passionately.

“As a child I observed seasonal changes that were expected. Upon my return I noticed that the ocean had open water during the months that it should be covered with ice (October through December ), our fall weather was longer and contributed to further erosion processes, we began to see the growth of low tundra willows near Barrow, and we never saw willows around Barrow when I was young,” Roseberry says. “My father stated once that he no longer could rely on his knowledge of the environment because of its unpredictability and that he considered himself to be a researcher of the arctic along with scientists studying the changes.” —Marcy Davis