Image: Science Instructor Katey WalterKatey Walter
Associate Research Professor
Insitute of Northern Engineering and the Water and Environmental Research Center

Dr. Katey Walter, an aquatic ecologist, is an associate research professor in the Institute of Northern Engineering and the Water and Environmental Research Center. She recently transitioned to this position after first working as a University of Alaska Presidential International Polar Year Postdoctoral Fellow at UAF. Her research focuses on methane emissions from arctic lakes with particular attention to thermokarst and permafrost degradation. Walter was lead author on a paper published in September 2006 in Nature titled “Methane Bubbling from Siberian Thaw Lakes as a Positive Feedback to Climate Warming”. Walter reported to the Royal Society in London in November, 2006 to present this work together with a first-order estimate of pan-arctic lake methane emissions for publication in the upcoming volume of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. Another chapter of her doctoral dissertation is in review at Science on the role of thermokarst lakes as an atmospheric methane source during Holocene deglaciation. Walter received her Ph.D. in Aquatic Biology in May 2006 from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. In December 2006 the United States Council of Graduate Schools presented her with the nation’s most prestigious honor for doctoral dissertations: First place in Science, Math and Engineering, an award given every two years to recognize recent doctoral recipients who have already made significant contributions to their field.

Before returning to UAF as a research faculty in 2007, Walter worked as the Research Program Manager at the Prince William Sound Oil Spill Recovery Institute managing a research program focused on oil pollution issues in the Arctic and sub-Arctic.

In March, 2007, Walter traveled with the BBC to Cherskii, Siberia to make a documentary film on permafrost thaw and lake methane dynamics as part of the BBC’s brand new series on our planet, which will present a biography of earth, looking at its past, present and future. On behalf of the Northeast Science Station in Cherskii, Walter works as project coordinator for Russian-U.S. collaborations for the International Polar Year as part of an effort to network arctic observatories in Alaska and Russia for long term monitoring of climate change in cold regions. Walter has M.S. in Ecology with a focus on biogeochemistry of invasive aquatic plants from the University of California, Davis and a Bachelors Degree in Biogeochemistry from Mount Holyoke College. She has conducted research projects in Russia, Germany, Central America and the Unite States. Walter is fluent in Russian; a certified scientific diver; a mountaineer; skier; outdoor enthusiast and plays the cello.

Walter served as a STEP Science Instructor in 2007, when the featured topic was Climate Change.