June 05, 2017

Alcoa Employees Conduct Climate Change Research with Earthwatch in the Arctic

Alcoa Foundation selected eight Alcoa employees to participate in a unique professional development opportunity with Earthwatch Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting citizens with scientists to conduct conservation research worldwide.
The fellows will head to Churchill, Manitoba in Canada – the polar bear capital of the world -- from September 10th to the 16th to collect climate change data alongside leading scientists. Earthwatch has supported this project for nearly 20 years, and it has become a powerful “ground zero” for climate change research – helping scientists refine models and inform policy.


The fellowship experience has two core components: immersive hands-on field research, and sustainable action implemented back in the home office or community.


During their days the team will work with scientists to collect data on snowpack, permafrost, soil, presence of biological components (vascular plans, lichens, and mosses), tadpole metamorphosis, annual growth rings of trees, wetland water quality, and more – all factors that tell part of the complex story of how the changing climate is reshaping an ecosystem.  The evidence of climate change in this polar region is clear: polar sea ice is shrinking, glaciers are retreating, winter snowpack is less extensive than it used to be, and the tree line is shifting northward. 


“An important part of Alcoa’s commitment to sustainability is providing our employees with the chance to learn about its critical importance on a global scale,” said Rosa Garcia Pineiro, VP, Sustainability and Alcoa Foundation President. “Alcoa Foundation’s unique partnership with Earthwatch allows our employees the chance to assist scientists with real-life climate change research projects, and return to their respective communities with the tools to contribute positively to their respective environments.”


In addition to serving as research assistants, the fellows also participate in facilitated learning sessions to expand their knowledge of how sustainability relates to their community. Upon conclusion of the expedition, the fellows will bring their expedition experiences “home”: they will present on their experience to their Alcoa office, create a sustainability project to implement in their organization or community, and organize and attend a post-fielding volunteering event in partnership with a local organization.


Elias Miranda, a chemical engineer from Brazil, returned from his fellowship in 2016 with an action plan that targeted education and waste within his Alcoa community.  Elias trained his colleagues on sustainability and climate change, labeled all waste containers and added Organic Waste containers throughout his Alcoa facility, and worked with his manager to provide reusable mugs for each employee reducing the estimated 62,400 plastic cups used each year within his office.


“Traveling far from their plants and offices to serve as fellows, these inspiring individuals not only contribute to cutting-edge scientific research, but they absorb themselves in sustainability curriculum,” said Scott Kania, CEO, Earthwatch Institute. “The Alcoa fellows learn how to incorporate sustainability into the actions and decisions they take as employees and in their communities.”


Since 2003, 274 Alcoa employees from 24 countries have contributed more than 13,500 hours of research, which Earthwatch uses to inform sustainable solutions.


This year’s fellows include: Amy Schofield (Program Specialist; Booragoon, Australia), Barbara Sándor (Transactional Buyer; Székesfehérvár, Hungary), Hugo Leonardo Rodrigues Cantanhede (EHS Analyst; Sao Luis, Brazil), Jeremie Boivin (Reliability Engineer; Baie-Comeau, Canada), Kira Sorensen (Environmental Scientist; Huntly, Australia), Miltiadis Constantine (Project Manager; Pittsburgh, PA United States), Patrick Lotteau (Treasury Manager; Geneva, Switzerland), and Shelley Ranii (Strategic Planning and Analysis Manager; Pittsburgh, PA United States).


To learn more, visit http://www.alcoa.com/foundation/en/partnerships-programs/earthwatch-fellowship-program.asp. To learn more about the story behind the expedition, visit http://multimedia.earthwatch.org/treesinthetundra.  
About Earthwatch Institute
Earthwatch Institute is an international nonprofit organization that connects citizens with scientists to improve the health and sustainability of the planet. Since its founding in 1971, Earthwatch has empowered nearly 100,000 volunteers from all walks of life to join leading scientists on field research expeditions that tackle critical environmental challenges around the globe – from climate change to ocean health, human-wildlife conflict, and more. Earthwatch works with all sectors of society, from corporations to teachers, students, community leaders, zoos and aquaria, and more. For more information about Earthwatch, visit www.earthwatch.org.

About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation’s predecessor, currently known as Legacy Alcoa Foundation (and formerly known as Alcoa Foundation), was founded in 1952 as one of the few endowed corporate foundations in the United States. As a result of the separation of Alcoa Inc. into Alcoa Corporation and Arconic Inc. in November 2016, two new foundations were formed, into which the assets of Legacy Alcoa Foundation were transferred. One of the newly formed foundations, known now as Alcoa Foundation, is the foundation associated with Alcoa Corporation. Today, Alcoa Foundation invests where Alcoa Corporation has a presence, providing grants that contribute to environmental excellence around the world, particularly in the areas of biodiversity conservation and climate change research. Learn more at alcoafoundation.com and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.