Vera Alexander, Ph.D.


Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S.






Vera Alexander received bachelors and masters degrees in zoology from the University of Wisconsin, and then a doctorate in oceanography from the University of Alaska in 1965. She remained there on the faculty, progressing through the ranks to a tenured Professorship in 1974.  Her responsibilities included graduate courses in biological oceanography and research.

Her research areas included nutrient cycles in aquatic systems, primary productivity, arctic and sub arctic limnology, and biological oceanography with special emphasis on low trophic level biology, nitrogen fixation in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, dynamics of marine marginal ice zone ecosystems. This included work on marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments of Arctic Alaska, including the wet tundra in the Barrow, Alaska, region, the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, the Brooks Range and the Alaskan north slope along the trans-Alaska pipeline, based at Toolik Research Station. She participated in or led ten oceanographic cruises in the Bering Sea and two in the Southern Ocean (Antarctica), and conducted fieldwork at Palmer Station in Antarctica. Also conducted limnological and ecological research in the northern Canadian Arctic and in Lapland. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Office of Naval Research, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy and the Alaska Sea Grant College Program, among others.

In 1980, She accepted the Directorship for the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska, and in 1987 was charged with putting together a new statewide School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. She retired as emeritus Professor and Dean in 2004.

She received an honorary doctorate of Laws degree from Hokkaido University in 1999 in recognition of her promotion of international cooperation, and in 2010 received the Walter and Ermalee Hickel Lifelong Achievement award presented by the Alaska Marine Leadership Council for advancing marine knowledge in Alaskan waters. The Vera Alexander Learning Center was dedicated in  May 2008 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

She served on numerous boards and committees throughout her career, including the NOAA Science Advisory Board, the Ocean Research Advisory Panel, the Ocean Sciences Board and the Polar Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Science Foundation Ocean Science Advisory Committee, the NOAA Ocean Exploration Advisory Panel and others.  She served two two-year terms as Chairman of: PICES, the North Pacific Marine Science Organization. Most recently. She worked on the Scientific Steering Committee for the Census of Marine Life through the past  eleven years. She was appointed to the Marine Mammal Commission in 1995.