Skidmore Student Artist Program


The Juneau Icefield Research Program


The Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP) is an eight-week immersion in the wilderness of the Juneau Icefield, during which participants (undergraduate, graduate, and high school juniors and seniors) traverse from Juneau, Alaska to Atlin, British Columbia.

For over 70 years, JIRP has maintained the longest running study of any glacier in the Western Hemisphere. Such comprehensive and continuous studies are rare yet crucial to our understanding of past and present climate change.

JIRP’s mission is to provide an unrivaled educational and expeditionary experience in the stunning Coast Mountains of Alaska and British Columbia. We give students a wide range of training in Earth sciences, wilderness survival, and mountaineering skills, and provide unique opportunities for team building and personal growth.

Participants are active partners with leading scientists pursuing groundbreaking research.  We stimulate cross-disciplinary collaboration among students from the United States and around the world with scientists engaged in all aspects of Earth systems science. The field-based curriculum and stunning mountain environment has inspired students for over seventy years.



The Skidmore Student Artist Program at JIRP


Mission Statement:

The JIRP Student Artist will be using art as a lens to understand climate science, while studying glaciology and related topics through research and lessons led by faculty and staff on the program. The Student Artist program is an important addition to JIRP, designed to help visualize connections between science and society, and to provide a more interdisciplinary educational experience to help students approach the Juneau Icefield with analytical, artistic, and scientific lenses. The Student Artist is also given the opportunity to pursue their creative practice in the field, while simultaneously diving deeper into the scientific realms with which their art intersects.

The Student Artist will be part of scientific research and camp life, while expanding their art practice as they participate in scientific fieldwork and exploration. They will also work closely with JIRP Science Communication and Art Faculty on methods to visualize scientific concepts, and focus on a wide range of visual storytelling strategies to communicate climate science and JIRP’s mission to a wider audience.

JIRP approaches science communication from many different angles – from documentary photography to science journalism to scientific illustration to abstract art-making. The Student Artist brings a unique creative perspective to storytelling.  We would like this role to help JIRP visualize the way in which these types of science communication methods can exist together.


Student Role on JIRP:

  • As part of the student cohort, the student artist will participate in scientific research, safety training, and all aspects of camp life (cook crew, camp chores, etc.).

  • The Student Artist will be part of a scientific student research group. JIRP expects the Student Artist to offer their alternative perspective for the purposes of group learning.

  • The Student Artist will benefit from mentoring from Science Communication/Art faculty and will have opportunities to collaborate with students, staff, and faculty.

  • The Student Artist will have opportunities to work independently on art projects throughout the summer. These opportunities, like all activities at JIRP, are subject scheduling changes based on time and resources. 


Financial Information:

  • JIRP student tuition ($7425) is covered by a generous Skidmore donor.

  • The student is responsible for all other expenses, including travel to and from Juneau necessary gear and equipment for the Icefield. The gear list is quite extensive, but it is essential for safety and efficiency to have the right equipment to traverse the Icefield. *

*For students who have medium to high financial need, Skidmore will offer an additional $500 of support to offset the cost of gear and travel.

  • The student is also responsible for all art supplies and materials necessary for them to complete their artwork on the Icefield.**

**The logistics of transporting all supplies (research equipment, art supplies, groceries and fuel, safety equipment, etc.) at JIRP are resources-intensive and limited by space and funding. A JIRP representative will discuss specific limitations with the Student Artist prior to the field season, but in general art supplies will have to be highly portable and compact.



Art Exhibition - Fall 2018:

Following the Summer 2018 Field Season, the student will exhibit their artwork from the Icefield at Skidmore (location and dates TBD). The exhibition will serve as an opportunity for outreach and science communication to the greater Skidmore and Saratoga communities. Proceeds from any sales from the show will be split 65% to JIRP (to help cover the cost of program expenses) and 35% to the Student Artist.



Application Criteria:


  • Art Student with interest in science (not required to be an art major)

  • Not medium-specific. Student can be working in any medium and/or interdisciplinarily.

  • Interested in storytelling, climate science, outdoor expeditions, etc.

  • Must be comfortable working both independently and collaboratively.

  • Must have outdoor experience (backcountry experience preferred), but previous skiing/expedition experience not required. JIRP is very physically demanding and includes living in rugged environments and in very close quarters.

  • Must have a reasonable fitness level to complete the entire program.  Please see the Program Details for more information.




Science Communication + Art Faculty: On the Icefield, Summer 2018


  • Hannah Perrine Mode: Hannah is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and illustrator. Through her work, she helps people to access a more empathic and intimate understanding of climate science, geologic forces, and human geography. Hannah was the inaugural Artist-In-Resident on JIRP in 2017, and continues to spearhead efforts to utilize art as a tool for science communication and interdisciplinary learning on the Icefield, returning in 2018 as faculty. During her time on JIRP, she explored ways to blur the line between human and geologic time scales; experimented with time-based photographic processes to document scientific process, sunlight, and glacial melt; and used storytelling and memory to access a more emotional understanding of climate change. Based in Oakland, CA, Hannah organizes a variety of community placemaking and storytelling projects, works as a freelance illustrator, and teaches art. She has a BS in Studio Art from Skidmore College and will receive an MFA in Studio Art from Mills College in May 2018.

  • Ben Huff: Ben Huff is a portrait and landscape photographer based out of Juneau, AK. His recent professional work focuses on telling the stories of Alaskan residents. He started working with JIRP in 2015 to tell the story of the both the science research and the journey across the Icefield. While he is in the field with JIRP Ben is often embedded with trail parties, recording their daily adventures. He also teaches seminars and lectures on photographic techniques and using photography to tell stories. Between times, Ben can almost always be found working with individual students, answering questions about their own photographic pursuits. Ben is excited to return to JIRP for part of the 2018 field season.

  • Kristin Link: Kristin is a scientific illustrator based out of McCarthy, AK. Her work in natural history art is used on interpretive signs and in museums to aid in communication between scientific researchers and the non-expert public. She began working with JIRP in 2017 as science communication faculty and is excited to return for part of the 2018 field season. On the Icefield Kristin’s teaching focuses on using sketching to complement and improve field notes, as well as using illustration to tell the stories of JIRP on the blog. Kristin earned her graduate certificate in Scientific Illustration from California State University Monterey Bay in 2010.

  • Drew Higgins: Drew is an environmental educator, outdoorswoman and freelance writer currently based in mid-coast Maine. She graduated in 2016 from Carleton College with a degree in Environmental Studies, and was a scientific student participant on JIRP in 2015. After leaving the Midwest, she worked at Climbing and Sierra Magazine, where she most enjoyed reporting on women in the outdoors and STEM and climate change at the poles. Last summer she completed an AmeriCorps term in field education at Teton Science Schools. She currently teaches environmental issues at Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki, a semester school for high school juniors, and brings to the Icefield her love of project-based learning, science communication, and education.

  • Annika Ord: Annika is an artist, commercial fisher(wo)man, outdoorswoman, and four season JIRP field staffer. After graduating from Carleton College in 2014 with a degree in Biology, Annika has been exploring connections between people and place and studying environmental science and climate stories around the world – from Chile to New Zealand, and back home in Southeast Alaska. For the past three years as field staff, Annika has been leading field sketching on the Icefield and is excited to see the art program continue to grow!



Selection Process:


Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee affiliated with JIRP (including the Director, Board representatives, Program Manager, and Science Communication + Art Faculty). The selection committee may interview finalists by phone or skype before final decisions are announced.