Dr. Lawson W. Brigham is Distinguished Professor of Geography and Arctic Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Senior Fellow at the Institute of the North. He is currently a Commissioner on the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission and a member of the U.S. Delegation to the International Maritime Organization in London. During 2005-2009 he was chair of the Arctic Council’s Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment and Vice Chair of the Council’s working group on Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment. Dr. Brigham, a native of Shelter Island, New York, was a career U.S. Coast Guard officer serving from 1970-95 and retiring with the rank of Captain. He commanded four Coast Guard cutters including the patrol cutter Point Steele, Great Lakes icebreaker Mobile Bay, the medium endurance cutter Escanaba and the polar icebreaker Polar Sea; he also served as Chief of Strategic Planning at Coast Guard Headquarters. He has participated in more than 15 Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, and during summer 1994 Polar Sea crossed the central Arctic Ocean for science with the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent.
Dr. Brigham has been a research fellow at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a faculty member of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School, and Alaska Office Director of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. He is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (B.S.), a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval War College, and holds graduate degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (M.S.) and the University of Cambridge (MPhil and Ph.D). His research interests have focused on the Russian maritime Arctic, Arctic climate change, marine transportation, Arctic futures, remote sensing of sea ice, and polar geopolitics. Captain Brigham was a 2008 signer of the American Geographical Society’s Flier’s and Explorer’s Globe, the Society’s historic globe of exploration. This signing was in recognition of Polar Sea’s 1994 voyages becoming the first ship in history to reach the extreme ends of the global ocean. He was named the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and in 2013 was selected a member of the Norwegian Scientific Academy for Polar Research. Dr. Brigham is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Arctic.