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President Appoints Engineer Specializing in Sea Ice to Seat on U.S. Arctic Research Commission

Another appointee for the U.S. Arctic Research Commission ...

President Obama has announced his next appointment to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. It’s Jackie Richter-Menge, a research civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H.

“To have the opportunity now to be a commissioner, and actually be the one (who) goes out and looks for input, takes that input and develops the goals, is very exciting for me,” she said in an interview.

Richter-Menge says she’s often worked with the commission during her 35 years with the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab. She says the commission does important work – especially in advising the president and Congress on the direction of the nation’s Arctic research program.

Credit Jackie Richter-Menge
Jackie Richter-Menge, the newest member of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.

“So it plays a big role in deciding how the U.S. is going to invest its research dollars,” she said.

Richter-Menge says her professional experience will help the commission carry out that responsibility.

“Over the course of the years, my work has been applied (by) the Navy for operating vessels in the Arctic sea-ice cover,” she said. “And currently, it’s been focused on climate change, making equipment and observations that can monitor how the Arctic sea-ice cover is changing, with the warming temperatures.

Richter-Menge says she comes into the job with two major goals:

First, she said, “I want to make people aware that the U.S. is an Arctic nation, and that what’s happening in the Arctic is affecting the United States.”

Credit NASA
Richter-Menge, left, and members of the NASA IceBridge Team prepare for a 2013 flight from Thule, Greenland, to the Beaufort Sea, off Alaska's northeastern coast, to examine sea-ice conditions between the two points. Richter-Menge served as co-chair and sea-ice lead for the IceBridge science team.

Secondly, she hopes to use her decades of experience with the federal government to help the commission work with the many agencies involved in Arctic research.

“I’m really interested in trying to work to improve coordination of the efforts among the different federal agencies in developing and executing the Arctic research plan, making the most of the resources that are available.”

Richter-Menge holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Delaware. And earlier this year, the University of Alaska Fairbanks awarded her an honorary doctorate of science. She's also serving as an affiliate professor at UAF's Institute of Northern Engineering.

She replaces Charles Vorosmarty, professor and director of the City University of New York’s Department of Civil Engineering, whose term on the commission expired.

Richter-Menge will join another recent appointee to the seven-member commission. That’s Larry Mayer, founding director of the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at the University of New Hampshire and co-director of the Joint Hydrographic Center operated jointly by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of New Hampshire.

Editor's note: this story was revised for posting online, with additional information about Richter-Menge's professional experience and recent appointments to the Arctic Research Commission.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.