About the Crew

matthew_probe2 Matthew Sturm


University of Alaska – Fairbanks

I first came to the Arctic on a Coast Guard icebreaker when I was 17.  For a while I worked in the Antarctic running boats . In both the Arctic and Antarctic I found the ice and snow to be important and fascinating, so I went to college and became a geologist, and later a glaciologist (one who studies frozen water).

In 1981 my wife and I moved to Fairbanks, where we have lived ever since.  It is a sub-arctic town, but snow and ice are still pretty important there. In graduate school I started studying glaciers, then switched to snow cover. . .that’s what we call the snow piled up on the ground.  First I studied what happens to individual snow grains, then I got interested in how snow effects climate, so I started leading long over-snow trips to collect data.  On several month-long expeditions, my children (Skye and Eli) have helped in the field.

My first long snowmobile trip was in 1994. Since then I have led about 15 such trips and probably traveled about 8000 km.  Even when I am the Chief Scientist on a trip, I like to do all types of work. Last winter, I was working on a snow project in Barrow but I still got to do the surveying, which was fun.  In total, I have about 37 years of living and working in the Arctic.



Glen Liston

Senior Research Scientist

Colorado State University

As a scientist I study snow and ice in the mountains, the Arctic, and Antarctica. In 1982-83 I spent a year at the United States Amundsen-Scott South Pole Research Station, Antarctica, where I received a United States Congressional Service Medal.

I have considerable experience in cold-regions field research, leading and participating in snow and glaciological research expeditions around the world. These projects involve multi-day, multi-week, and multi-month field programs. In recognition of my field research and related publications, in 1999 I was elected a Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York. I participated in a 4200-km International Polar Year (IPY) expedition across Arctic Canada (2007), and an IPY overland expedition to the South Pole (2007-2008). I have a glacier named after me in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica (the “Liston Glacier”) for my work on Antarctic glacier and ice sheet melt processes.



Chris Polashenski

Research Geophysicist/Adjunct Assistant Professor

U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory/Dartmouth College

Chris hails from the fields and forests of northeastern Pennsylvania, and more recently New Hampshire, and Alaska. He is driven by an insatiable curiosity about how natural systems work, a love of remote places, and a fascination with the people and wildlife of the Far North. Chris studied in Dartmouth College’s Polar Environmental Change IGERT program, and has worked since 2011 as research geophysicist for the Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL).

At CRREL Chris’ research program focuses on understanding changes occurring in the Arctic snow, sea ice cover, and ice sheets, then helping to incorporate this new understanding into predictions of future changes. Much of his work is based on field measurements, which Chris greatly enjoys collecting. Field campaigns have taken him to Greenland, Canada, Norway, and Alaska, operating from research stations, a variety of aircraft, snowmobiles, and icebreakers. The challenges of collecting data in the harsh Arctic environment require constant equipment development and adaptation – which means Chris gets to satisfy his engineering twitch by ‘tinkering a bit’ in the tangled mess of wires and circuit boards that lines the side of his office.

When not collecting measurements or soldering electrical components together, Chris likes to canoe, hunt, fish, ski, swim, berry pick, hike, and otherwise be outdoors, particularly with his partner Norah and free-spirited beagle, Tracks. He also loves building things (and taking things apart), gathers, grows and processes most of his own food, and satisfies his childhood dreams of driving tractors by ‘helping’ around Norah’s farm.



Heidi Helling 

Wildlife Biologist

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Heidi is a large mammal biologist for Arctic National Wildlife Refuge who studied at the University of Idaho and has considerable field experience following and tracking numerous species. Some of her past work involved tracking wolves to assess how pack size and winter-kill rates relate to prey densities and population dynamics of Bighorn sheep using genetic techniques in the Teton Range, Wyoming.   She has also spent time a bit further south in Alaska on Kodiak Island, where she climbed with her crew(s) into the sketchy, steep mountainous regions where mountain goats thrive and down into the heavily vegetated river bottoms to collect brown bear habitat use data.  Heidi’s  2014 and the upcoming 2015 Arctic Refuge traverse will be a contributing component for her wolf and porcupine caribou herd winter range research program for Arctic Refuge.
In her spare time she enjoys long distance running (will attempt her first 100 mile race in 2015), laughing, skiing, bantering with Matthew Sturm, spending time with her husky dog Zuka, and attempting to be as good at yoga as Chris Polashenski.






Simon Filhol 

PhD Candidate

University of Alaska – Fairbanks

Originally from a small village of the French Alps in the surrounding of Chambery, I discovered for the first time the Arctic  in 2008 during a visit in the archipelagos of Svalbard. Since then, drawn by the remarkable landscapes and wilderness of northern latitudes, where life is rare, winter is the prevalent season, and every trips are source of great adventures, I moved to Alaska in 2010. After graduating from the engineering school Polytech Grenoble of the University Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, I entered a PhD program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks supervised by Matthew Sturm.  There, I study the physics of the snow cover and the relation of snow to its ecosystem, especially in the boreal forest.



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