Studying the Black Guillemots of Cooper Island has largely been a solitary venture for George Divoky. While the discovery and initial years of the study were part of governmental research related to oil development in northern Alaska, for the past four decades the work has been conducted with occasional grants and much personal dedication. Long-term studies, such as George’s, rarely can be conducted by the government, which typically focus on immediate agency needs, while the duration of most academic research is insufficient to allow exposition of multi-decadal trends. Yet it is precisely this type of extended data set that is needed to monitor the long-term cycles and trends related to climate change and other atmospheric variation.
George Divoky is the founder of Friends of Cooper Island and serves as its director in collaboration with a governing board. George has been studying seabirds in arctic Alaska since 1970 and holds a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Research priorities and directions are set with the advice of a Scientific Advisory Board composed of prominent arctic researchers from a number of disciplines.
George’s long-term research on Cooper Island was the focus of a New York Times Magazine cover story entitled “George Divoky’s Planet” by Darcy Frey.