State fellow joined dozens of scientists for Arctic Integrated Ecosystem Survey

Genevieve Johnson in ship’s lab, using field guide to identify invertebrates from beam trawl catch. Photo by Alicia Flores.

Genevieve Johnson is five months into her yearlong fellowship with Alaska Sea Grant, working on chum salmon genetics and Arctic ecosystem research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A master’s student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, Johnson is focusing on crab genetics in her graduate research. That background gives her a leg up in her job at NOAA. Both salmon and crab are integral species for Alaska’s commercial, recreational, subsistence and personal use fisheries.

Johnson began her fellowship on August 2017 at the Alaska Fishery Science Center in Juneau.

One of the first things she did was participate in the the Arctic Integrated Ecosystem Survey, a multiyear project involving dozens of marine scientists with a range of specialties. The survey aims to improve understanding of the physical and biological changes resulting from reduced Arctic sea ice.

AEI survey scientists sort catch from beam trawl haul. L to R: Dan Cooper, Igor Grigorov, Aleksey Somoff, Genevieve Johnson and Alex Andrews. Photo by Alicia Flores.

“During this leg, we surveyed the northern Chukchi Sea,” said Johnson. “I assisted with collections and experiments for primary production. I also helped sort and measure catches of benthic fishes and invertebrates as well as pelagic fish catches. It was the longest survey I have participated in and the farthest north I have ever traveled!”

“Between grad school and the fellowship, I am involved in several projects that will extend our understanding of Arctic and subarctic marine species,” she said.

Johnson feels strongly that by making efforts to improve our baseline understanding of marine populations and by improving the way scientists collaborate to study the complexities of Arctic ecosystems, we will contribute better information to planners and policy makers so that Alaskans and the general public can enjoy our marine system for the long-term.

Johnson will soon finish her fisheries degree at UAF, working under associate professor Andres Lopez. Her thesis project involves using next-generation-sequencing methods to determine the genetic population structure of Tanner crab in Alaska waters.

She enjoys living in Juneau and doing creative projects and crafts in her spare time.

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