Alcoa Joins Environmentalists for Research Trips

Alcoa Joins Environmentalists for Research Trips

A group of 14 Alcoa employees will take part in research projects ranging from monitoring seabirds in Alaska to assessing impacts on coral reefs in the Seychelles.

The projects have been arranged through a partnership with the Earthwatch Institute, a global volunteer organization that works toward a sustainable environment by engaging people in research, conservation, and education programs.

The selected employees work at Alcoa locations around the world, from Australia to Mexico. Between June and November they will travel to research sites in Belarus, China, Kenya, and elsewhere to assist on-going research projects on critical environmental issues. This is the fifth year Alcoa has sponsored employees in the field.

"Climate change issues have always been my passion, so I was glad that there was a specific expedition on monitoring climate change," said Sasanka Thilakasiri, an Alcoa employee from Australia who participated in Earthwatch's Climate Change at the Arctic's Edge project last year. "I am glad that I now can say that I have actually measured and seen the effects of anthropogenic climate change. This experience has definitely motivated me to stop sitting on my hands and be more proactive about being a climate change advocate at home."

In addition to encouraging the support of company environmental goals, Alcoa employee fellows are also inspired to take action for sustainability in their local communities. For example, Indiana employee Frank Cicela, who explored caterpillar ecology in the rainforests of Costa Rica, went on to launch a regional conference on energy issues and solutions, sharing insights on subjects ranging from alternative energy sources to designing sustainable communities.

The 2007 Alcoa Earthwatch fellows and their research expeditions include:
  • James Stanley of Texas and Australians Gregory Peterson and Steven Jamieson will study the seabirds of Prince William Sound from June 1-14
  • Rosana Maria Liem of Brazil and Russian Olga Savina will be a part of the Coral and Coastal Ecology of the Seychelles expedition, from July 3-17
  • Keith Williams from Tennessee and Canadian Serge Martineau will study Inner Mongolia's Lost Water from July 25-August 13;
  • Russian Adam Benke and Veronica Monjaras Garcia of Mexico join the Tidal Forests of Kenya expedition from August 7-17;
  • Anika Wall from Australia will study wetlands in Belarus from August 20-September 2;
  • Khurram Chaudhry from the U.K., Russian Alexandra Gluschenkova and Gavin Ng of China will join the Bahamian Reef Survey from November 17-24
The Earthwatch Fellowships give Alcoa employees an opportunity to get involved personally and to share their findings in the communities in which they work and live. During their expeditions, each fellow publishes a diary of his or her experiences along with photographs on Alcoa's Earthwatch site.

"Alcoa is committed to being part of the solution for global environmental issues," said Rob Bear, corporate director of Environment at Alcoa. "Our Earthwatch partnership matches the enthusiasm of our employees with an opportunity to gain different perspectives, learn new skills, and explore diverse cultures. This is a powerful combination as we continue to do our part to ensure a sustainable future."

The Alcoa Earthwatch Fellows nominate themselves and are selected on merit by a team of judges from Alcoa and Earthwatch Institute. All travel and accommodation costs are covered, and the fellows use their available vacation time to participate on projects for up to two weeks under the guidance of leading environmental scientists. Alcoa provides a grant to Earthwatch to support the research projects in which employees are participating.