Open to the Public

Athena in color, Dr. Brendan Kelly, in profile in a black and white photo, arms crossed and looking like he is actively listening and thinking, pensive and thoughtful, with white hair, white mustache, Alex in color
Athena Copenhaver, Executive Director of the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)-left; Brendan P. Kelly, Science Director and Principal Investigator, SEARCH-middle; Alex Shahbazi, Research & Program Management Fellow, SEARCH-right

Rapid warming of the Arctic is exacting tremendous costs to social, cultural, economic, environmental, and health systems.

Adapting to Rapid Climate Change in the Arctic: Synthesizing Scientific & Indigenous Knowledge


  • Brendan P. Kelly, Science Director and Principal Investigator, Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH)

  • Athena Copenhaver, Executive Director of SEARCH

  • Alex Shahbazi, Research & Program Management Fellow, SEARCH

Thursday, November 2, 2023

6:00pm to 7:00pm Pacific Time

Online via Zoom (details below)

About the Topic

Rapid warming of the Arctic is exacting tremendous costs to social, cultural, economic, environmental, and health systems. Indigenous residents and scientific researchers know a great deal about the drivers and consequences of Arctic warming, but that understanding is not readily available to decision makers. Indigenous knowledge is generally restricted to oral traditions, and deciphering scientific literature too often requires technical knowledge. Over fifty Indigenous, scientific, and decision-making experts collaborate in the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH) to use their collective knowledge to influence and drive practical solutions to problems resulting from rapid environmental change. 

About the Speakers

Brendan P. Kelly

Brendan P. Kelly is the Science Director and Principal Investigator of the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH). He is a Professor of Marine Biology with the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center and a Senior Fellow with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

A marine ecologist with a focus on sea ice environments, Dr. Kelly has participated in and led collaborative research in the North Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Baltic Sea, and Antarctica.

Previously, he served as Deputy Director of the Arctic Division at the U.S. National Science Foundation, Assistant Director for Polar Science in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Director of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, Chief Scientist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and as a science adviser to Indigenous organizations in Alaska.

Dr. Kelly received degrees in Biology from the University of California Santa Cruz (B.A.), the University of Alaska Fairbanks (M.S.), and Purdue University (Ph.D.).

Outside of research, Dr. Kelly enjoys sailing, hiking, and serving in a fire lookout in the Los Padres National Forest.

Athena Copenhaver

A.E. Copenhaver is a writer, editor, science communicator, and climate interpreter. She’s worked in the environmental and nonprofit sectors for nearly a decade.

She has ghostwritten book chapters about cities plagued by factory farming, air pollution, and automobile traffic, and she has written about migrating white sharks, threatened sea otters, and depleted Pacific bluefin tuna. She holds degrees in English and environmental studies from Santa Clara University, and in 2009, she earned her master of art degree in culture and modernity from the University of East Anglia in England. Born in Bellevue, Washington, A.E. Copenhaver has lived in Carmel, California, for most of her life.

A.E. Copenhaver’s flash fiction “Let Them Eat Trees” was published in the Kirstofia anthology (2021). Her debut novel, My Days of Dark Green Euphoria—winner of the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature—was published in 2022 by Ashland Creek Press.

In her current position at the International Arctic Research Center, A.E. Copenhaver serves as the executive director of the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH), a National Science Foundation-funded research collaboration bringing together Indigenous Knowledge, science, and policy.

Alex Shahbazi

Alex is a Research & Program Management Fellow with the Study of Environmental Arctic Change and a Policy, Programs, & Research Consultant with Terra Virens Consulting. He is an avid conservationist, writer, and environmental policy specialist. Beyond SEARCH, Alex has researched and recommended Arctic policies for the World Wildlife Fund and Polar Bears International along with years spent working for environmental non-profits in community engagement, environmental education, and behavior change.

Alex holds an M.A. in International Environmental Policy specializing in Natural Resources Policy & Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Along with his graduate degree, Alex completed a B.A. in Physics at Lawrence University and has certifications in Design, Partnering, Management and Innovation from Root Change and as a Certified Interpretive Guide with the National Association of Interpretation. 

Recommended Reading

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The Center for the Blue Economy is a research organization at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.  Our mission is to promote a sustainable ocean and coastal economy (the “Blue Economy”) through leadership in research, analysis, and education.  For questions contact: Rachel C. at or visit or call 831-647-4183 (must leave message and receive call back).


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