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   Meet the Team

Meet the Team

Paul Pregont

Aaron Doering

Mille Porsild

Shari Fox Gearheard

Henry Huntington

Jens Olsson

Amy Vargason


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Henry Huntington (USA) – Chief TEK Advisor, Team Member

Click here if you would like to send Henry a note of encouragement or would just like to say 'Hello' while he is on the expedition.

Henry is broadly experienced in issues of importance to the Arctic and is an independent Arctic researcher based in Eagle River, Alaska.

Henry received his PhD in Polar Studies from the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge (UK), having done his research on the interactions of wildlife management institutions and Native hunting practices in northern Alaska. His subsequent research has looked primarily at interactions between people and their environment, such as the impacts of climate change, patterns and practices of subsistence hunting and fishing, traditional ecological knowledge, and conservation.

Henry has written two dozen scientific articles as well as several popular-press publications, taken part in several major international assessments of the Arctic, and has worked extensively with many Native communities throughout Alaska. He served as the environmental coordinator for the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, as a GIS analyst for the North Slope Borough, and as a special projects coordinator for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission. He recently served as president of the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States and has significant international experience, particularly with the Arctic Council.

Interview With Henry Huntington

Age: 40
Hometown: Eagle River, Alaska

What is your favorite food?

Pot roast

What kind of music do you like?

Classical, country, …

Hobbies or interests.

Hiking, mountaineering, back-country skiing, canoeing, photography, writing …

Favorite classes or subjects in school?

“Islamic civilization in Africa before 1750” (I saw this in the course catalog at college for a two years before getting up the nerve to sign up—it was great!), Literature, Cosmology, English Constitutional History (an awesome professor …)

Favorite childhood memories?

Being outdoors with family: canoeing in Canada, hiking in New Hampshire, sailing in Maine …

How did you choose your current career path? Who or what inspired you?

In high school, I read about Sir Ernest Shackleton, the British Antarctic explorer. Inspired by his story, I took a year off after high school and spent an Antarctic summer working (as a janitor) at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. In college, I wrote a senior thesis about Shackleton, and was then wondering what to do next, when I found out that the University of Cambridge (in England) has graduate programs in Polar Studies. I decided I should get some Arctic experience before going, and wound up counting bowhead whales in Barrow, Alaska. I was fascinated by the culture, by the issues surrounding the whale hunt and wildlife management, and ended up writing my master’s and doctoral dissertations about Inupiat Eskimos and wildlife management. (A big switch from the Antarctic, but still lots of ice and snow!) After grad school, I returned to Barrow for a few years, then moved south to Anchorage (Eagle River is a suburb of Anchorage). I work now as an independent researcher, which was not something I really planned, but it happened to work out as I was doing various projects. It’s a nice arrangement now, because I get to do lots of interesting and different projects, working with lots of interesting people.

What advice do you have for the students of today?

  1. Try lots of things, and don’t be afraid to push yourself, even to the point where you fail something. There’s no shame in failing if you’ve given your best, and you’ll never know if you’ve given your best until you push yourself beyond what you are capable of.
  2. Follow your heart—if you like a subject, don’t worry about the job market or what you will do with it, just explore and enjoy. Curiosity and drive are more important than any particular course, and you can develop your curiosity and drive better by doing what you find interesting and exciting than by what someone else thinks is “practical.”
  3. In college especially, find out who the good professors are and take their courses, no matter what the subject is. A family friend gave me this advice as I was going off to college, and it was excellent. (See my earlier answer about English Constitutional History.)

Why is it important to study the Arctic

The Arctic is interesting in itself, as a place of extremes where people have nonetheless figured out how to survive and thrive. It is also an indicator for the rest of the world, both in terms of climate (the projected changes to climate are likely to happen first and most extensively in the Polar Regions) and in terms of how people can learn to preserve natural environments on a large scale.

How and when did you first become a dog musher?

I’m not sure I’d call myself a musher, but when I lived in Barrow a friend had a team, and I would go out mushing with him and also look after his team when he was out of town. It was great going out on the tundra in winter, moving along quietly behind the dogs, enjoying the open tundra in the midwinter twilight.

Responsibilities on the trail

We’ll have to see! I will be working with Shari Fox Gearheard on the community-based science parts of the expedition. When we’re on the trail, I expect to be helping with all the tasks around camp, learning more about mushing, and enjoying being out in the country.