Dr. Cheryl Rosa

Dr. Cheryl Rosa is Deputy Director and Anchorage-based Alaska Director of the United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC). Until July 2025, she is on detail to the University of Alaska Fairbanks as the Director of the Animal Resources Center and Attending Veterinarian. 

Dr. Rosa is trained as a Wildlife Veterinarian and Wildlife Biologist and has worked with subsistence communities on the North Slope and in the Russian Far East on a wide range of studies involving wildlife health and zoonotic disease, marine mammal stranding response, subsistence food safety, and oil spill/offshore discharge research. She is a member of the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee, as well as numerous other federal and non-federal boards and steering committees.

Dr. Rosa runs USARC’s Alaska Rural Water and Sanitation Working Group and the Arctic Renewable Energy Working Group.

She received a PhD in Biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Tufts University, and BS degrees in both Animal Science and Zoology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Interview

2009

Dr. Cheryl Rosa, a research biologist and wildlife veterinarian, talks about her journey to Alaska and her work with bowhead whales. She explains how she started working in Alaska after a large oil spill and eventually ended up working for the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management. Dr. Rosa describes her fascination with bowhead whales and how she got involved in a project to assess their health. She talks about the various methods used to collect data and analyze the samples, including examining the tissues microscopically and looking at the health indices. Dr. Rosa notes how healthy the bowhead whales are compared to other marine mammals and how important it is to talk to local hunters and understand the culture in the region.

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Dr. Cheryl Rosa, formerly Deputy Director and Anchorage-based Alaska Director of the United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC), discusses her experience of going on her first whale expedition. She describes the challenges of working in a harsh environment with little shelter, and the need to ensure that sufficient data is collected prior to any development in the area, so that changes in animal populations can be tracked and understood. She discusses her work with bowheads, caribou, seals, and walrus, and the importance of collecting and archiving samples for future use. She also demonstrates a double-headed microscope that she uses for her work, which allows her to take pictures of slides and make measurements and color analyses.

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