2024 Arctic Task Force Students

2024 Arctic Task Force Students

The students in the Arctic Task Force are all majors in International Studies in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington. For most, this course will be the first introduction they have had to Arctic Studies and the trip to Ottawa, their first to the nation’s capital.

Jacob Coffler, wearing a dark blue t-shirt and a black cross-body strap, smiles in front of a canal in Venice, Italy.Jacob Coffler

I wanted to study within this program because the Arctic is at the center of a lot of global discourses. I am interested in the human rights aspect of climate change, specifically the effect ecological changes have on small and large communities. Additionally, the shifting landscape of the Arctic opens a new conversation about trade routes and resource claims, and I am interested in the impact on indigenous groups and how they are working to promote human rights and climate justice. I am looking forward to engaging with community leaders on the ground in Ottawa to learn about the many perspectives surrounding the melting Arctic.


BB Denton stands in a snowy yard, wearing a black winter coat and hood, and a grey scarf wrapped around their neck.BB Denton

(They/them) I am personally interested in issues related to identity, human rights, and the environment – specifically their intersections and overlap. In many ways the Arctic is a convergence of these topics, which is what drew me to take part in both the minor and this Task Force. Through our research this quarter, I am most excited to focus in and learn about the fight for sovereignty, self-governance and cultural preservation undertaken by indigenous groups across the Arctic – especially Inuit organizations and communities. I am looking forward to both travelling to Ottawa, and collaborating with all of my classmates on this project!


Claudia Fesko Santos smiles in front of a yellow VW car with plants spilling out of the hood.Claudia Fesko Santos

Through my studies at the Jackson school, I developed a passion for human rights advocacy and ethnography. In light of the climate crisis, human rights and climate change have become increasingly intertwined and although my knowledge is abundant in human rights issues in Central and Eastern Europe, my knowledge of my very own continent and of its indigenous peoples is limited. I hope that through this task force I will be able to widen my knowledge of indigenous rights across the Arctic and explore China’s increasing involvement in Arctic affairs.


Desaree Huynh smiles in an off-the-shoulder black top in front of the Seattle skyline at night.Desaree Huynh

As a Global and Regional Studies major, I am interested in deepening my understanding of global affairs and their various implications. With the Task Force, I am eager to explore the intricate interplay between policies, China’s role in the Arctic, and the consequential effects on Artic Indigenous Peoples. Outside of my educational career, I also really enjoy reading, learning other cultures as well as languages, and traveling.


Katelyn Kesinger smiles on a log bridge in a rainy forest. She wears ab lack jacket, an orange beanie, and a backpack.Katelyn Kesinger

As a Global and Regional Studies major, I want to focus on the geopolitics of the Arctic and why it is at the center of international discourse. During our week in Ottawa, I am looking forward to learning more about how Indigenous and Arctic groups are navigating international relationships amid challenging environmental and lifestyle concerns.


Nicolas Meljac poses on a city bridge in a white t-shirt.Nicolas Meljac

I am majoring in Global and Regional Studies and am particularly interested in emerging issues worldwide that will impact our environments, economies, and social structures this century.

Having the opportunity to work on analyzing the shift in Arctic trends is fantastic, as it is arguably the largest change on the geopolitical stage in recent times. New shipping routes, melting polar ice caps, and newly accessible natural resources will forever change the political scene worldwide. Analyzing the changes in the region and the wide variety of political actors in front is crucial to understanding geopolitical trends for the rest of the 21st century.


Headshot of Evelyn Merino.Evelyn Merino

My name is Evelyn Merino and I’m currently a senior majoring in Global and Regional Studies and French with a minor in Law, Societies and Justice. I’m currently enrolled in the Ottawa task force as I was intrigued by the socio-politics of the Arctic Circle and how new nation-state observer members are working with indigenous communities. My interest through this task force is to be looking into perhaps how socio -politics relates with resource extraction in the arctic. I’m excited for this hands-on learning experience and working closely with communities that are first-hand seeing the changes.


Ava Moore smiles in front of the ocean, with sunglasses on their head and wind blowing their hair.Ava Moore

I am a fourth-year student at UW pursuing a major in Global and Regional Studies and a minor in Arctic Studies. I am interested in learning how to manage power dynamics between state and non-state actors, and in particular, create environments for negotiation where Arctic Indigenous organizations can operate with their full agency, as they cooperate on issues such as adaptation to changing conditions caused by climate change, emergency response in international waters, and sustainable economic development in Arctic communities. I am also passionate about earth science and energy security and plans to study the resource extraction plans of China and other non-Arctic states. I am excited to be a part of this project and am greatly looking forward to learning from Inuit organizations in Ottawa.


Olivia Myhre wears a white satin top and smiles outside in the UW quad during summer.Olivia Myhre

My name is Olivia Myhre, I am a senior at the University of Washington. I am double majoring in Law, Societies, and Justice, and English Literature with minors in human rights and international relations. I am interested in the topics of international politics and indigenous issues. I am a voracious reader and I hope to become a foreign service officer or an attorney in the future.


Anouk Orillon sits at a marble table, resting one arm on it, and smiles while resting her chin in her hand.Anouk Orillon

I am a senior at the University of Washington, pursuing a major in Global and Regional Studies with a minor in History and European studies. I have a lifelong passion for learning languages and have dedicated a large portion of my time at the UW to learning German. Additionally, I speak both English and French at home. In my free time, I enjoy creating art, cooking, and nature walks. With the task force, I hope to learn more about Arctic culture. As an art lover, I hope to also learn more about Inuit art, and how it is used to tell and pass down stories.


Headshot of Maya Russell-HoffMaya Russell-Hoff

I am currently studying Global and Regional Studies, as well as Political Science and International Security. I am interested in how rising temperatures in the Arctic have exposed new access to shipping routes as well as natural resources. Furthermore, I aim to explore the developing relationship between China and Russia, and the way shipping through the Northern Sea Route impacts Arctic indigenous communities and the environment.


Ava Seifred stands on skis on top of a ski slope wearing a ski helmet and reflective goggles.Ava Seifred

My name is Ava and I’m a senior who’s majoring in Global and Regional studies and minoring in Art History. I’m interested in exploring the inner workings of the Arctic Council and how it coincides with each state’s geopolitical agenda, especially with the alliance of Russia and China. It’ll be exciting to learn how to write a policy recommendation and see Ottawa!


Faith Torlai stands in the snow holding a snowboard. She wears a white helmet with ski goggles and a black ski jacket.Faith Torlai

My name is Faith Torlai, and I’m a senior that will be graduating this quarter! I am majoring in Global and Regional Studies and English and hope to pursue further education after I graduate. I am interested in investigating China’s Arctic Policy and how that is shifting as climate change is creating more trading routes through the northern polar region.


Amber Wang poses making a peace sign with her hand in front of a window box with flowers.Amber Wang

My name is Amber Wang. I am currently studying in Environmental Studies and Global and Regional Studies, and I learned about Arctic international relationships, cultures, history and environmental preservation. I am passionate about learning about the Arctic region, especially under the climate change conditions. I am mostly interested in the environmental and cultural aspects, such as the conflict of Indigenous traditions and preservation laws. As a person who lived in China for 14 years during my childhood and moved to the U.S., I believe I have a strong resonation on the importance and the connection between humans and their own culture. I would love to hear Indigenous’ thoughts, ideas, and desire on these issues!