FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is planning to refocus some of its research on U.S. Department of Defense interests in an effort to secure more government funding.

The institute, which studies geophysical processes governing the planet, receives about 15 percent of its funding from the state and cuts have led to downsizing, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Monday (http://bit.ly/2fdHL8W ). It wants to supplement its funding by honing in on research geared for the agency.

Director Robert McCoy said the institute has conducted some research for the Defense Department, and it plans to reshape additional projects that could be of interest to it.

“The signals from the highest levels of the U.S. government are to decrease science funding and put more funding into the Department of Defense,” McCoy said. “So we’re hoping to pivot more toward the Department of Defense with still the same types of things we’ve been doing.”

The state has cut the institute’s general fund by about $4 million per year, forcing it to eliminate about 35 positions over the past three or four years as a result, McCoy said. He said they were not layoffs, but as a faculty member left or retired, the institute did not fill those positions.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said she wants to see continued support for the university’s research as the government works with it on Arctic-related proposals.

“We are actively looking to try to find ways to always cooperate within the university system in recognizing that the research they do is not just leading for Alaska, it’s leading for the nation,” Murkowski said. “So let’s resource this research and resource our university because they’re a great asset for us.”


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com