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Addressing MMIWG Data Gaps | Indigenous Perspective on Microbial Research

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Learn about an Indigenous female perspective on reductionist microbial research and how to address data gaps of MMIWG in Alaska.

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In recent years, women researchers, scientists, knowledge holders, and local champions have elevated their visibility and empowered their voices across the world. The polar regions are no exception. In 2021, a coalition of organizations including The Arctic Institute, Women in Polar Sciences, and Women of the Arctic are organizing a webinar series, Breaking the Ice Ceiling, that aims to illuminate polar research and achievements (past and present) by those who identify as women and to foster discussion on systemic change in polar sciences (Indigenous, natural, and social sciences) to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this webinar, you will learn from Dr. Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann abut science as a tool to understand rather than create knowledge and facts: an indigenous female perspective on reductionist microbial research, and from Charlene Aqpik Apok about data gaps in missing and murdered Indigenous womxn and girls in Alaska.

Dr. Aviaja Lyberth Hauptmann is an Inuit, Greenlander, Microbiologist, Ph.D. in microbial microbiomes, a public speaker, and a member of the Greenland Research Council. In human microbiome research, the study of the microbial ecosystems that live in and on us, we often see reductionist research focusing on finding mechanistic links between a certain microbe, or even just an a single molecule from that microbe, and some aspect of human health. While the knowledge created in such research can advance our knowledge and be of value, the question posed in this talk is whether we create better understanding if we continue to narrow in on single objects in the bigger picture. While such a molecule may create an opportunity for a commercially profitable medicament to reduce one of many symptoms of imbalanced microbial ecosystems, such as autoimmune disease or obesity, the argument presented in the talk is that looking through an indigenous lens, we start asking questions about the greater picture which is ultimately the picture that matters to peoples.

Charlene Aqpik Apok (she/they) is Inupiaq, her family is from White Mountain and Golovin, Alaska. She is mother to Evan Lukluan. Charlene has served in many spaces as an advocate for Indigenous sovereignty, womxn, climate justice, and Indigenous rights to health and wellbeing. She is a lifelong learner of both her cultural traditions and decolonizing academia. The crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous womxn and girls in Alaska is a complex issue. One missing key component to accessing justice has been the sheer lack of data. This presentation will share how Indigenous peoples have taken leadership to reclaim and steward data to support self-determined efforts towards justice.

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