This is part 2 of a 3-part column started last week. Here is the answer – what is the question?

This school offers a myriad of noncredit public interest workshops and it issues recognized industry badges for mastery of technical subjects. With more education, this school awards accredited certificates, then associate degrees, followed by bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees.

Do you know the secret question yet?

Try this: This school is one of the top research universities in the nation as proven by grant funding from the National Science Foundation for the Toolik Field Station (TFS) in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range. This world-renowned arctic research station is open year-round, has a staff of 40-50, and an annual grant funded budget of about $4 million, all spent locally, including on produce in the summer.

TFS generates additional local economic activity through the participation of 400-500 national and international scientists and students who travel to Alaska each year. Their projects, combined with infrastructure improvements conducted by Alaska contractors, total tens of millions of additional economic activities over a decade. TFS supports local hire and local businesses and is an enthusiastic member of the Fairbanks and North Slope Borough communities.

Still not sure of the question?

This fact should be a dead giveaway: Research has been done to help engineers adapt Alaska's infrastructure as permafrost in the state thaws. A lot of work is going into things like designing thermosyphons and new methods for road design to help offset the warmer temperatures we're seeing.

Here is another hint:

· This school’s Wilson Alaska Technical Center Operates Department of Defense nuclear monitoring facilities.

· It is one of only 18 DoD university affiliated research centers

· This Fairbanks school has secured over $2 billion in funding since 2008

Still not sure of the question?

What Fairbanks school is out to increase your PFD by being the first ever field pilot project on Alaska's North Slope to validate the use of a polymer to flood the reservoir and make the remaining heavy oil more recoverable?

Heavy oil is a vast energy resource that requires significant effort and expertise to produce economically. However, because conventional oil discoveries are not keeping up with overall oil demand, unconventional resources such as shale oil and heavy oil are necessary to meet increasing world demand.

Because American operators have never attempted polymer floods, this is the first of its kind, as an unconventional resource application. The advanced technology will effectively integrate the advantages of polymer injection, low salinity water, conformance improvement and horizontal wells together to significantly enhance oil recovery for heavy oil reservoirs.

One more clue to this mysterious educational institution:

Alaska Fire Science Consortium (housed at this Fairbanks school) is funded primarily by the federal Joint Fire Science Program. It is bringing forest ecology, fire science, economics and social science together to develop lessons learned and recommendations for fire fuel breaks and forest treatments that can make communities and firefighting tactics to protect them safer.

So, what is the question? You are right! The question is what is the benefit of UAF research to Alaskans in general, and Fairbanksans in particular? I just cannot keep a secret. I first came to UAF in 1974 as a fourth year sophomore (I give my students a lot of hope!) Until I started researching all that is going on at UAF I believed the 200 UAF research faculty were just a group of mad scientists who drove Pavlov’s dogs crazy.

How uninformed I was.

Our research faculty generally only receive between one and three months of salary support from state funds each year, their remaining salaries being covered by grants. This is an incredible return for a relatively small investment. Next week part 3 of this series.

Go spread the secret. Your UAF is one of the top 80 research universities in the United States

Tune into this space next week for “I’ve got a secret.”

Charlie Dexter is a professor of applied business emeritus. He may be reached by email at This column is provided as a public service by the UAF Community and Technical Colleges.