CWU News

CWU Shares $562,000 Grant to Help Alaska Prepare for Earthquakes, Tsunami, and Volcanic Hazards

The spectacular beaches and headlands of the Pacific Northwest are home to tens of thousands of residents, and a vacation wonderland to millions of tourists every year. However, these dramatic landscapes are located in severe earthquake and tsunami zones. Will residents or visitors know what to do when—not if—a catastrophic, natural disaster occurs?

For more than a decade, Central Washington University has collaborated with a variety of universities and organizations to run professional development programs for educators to better learn about the science of, and preparedness for, natural hazards of Cascadia.

CWU has now extended its reach to assisting a similar program in Alaska by co-leading a three-year, $562,000 grant from the National Science Foundation EarthScope Program to train educators and help run middle school STEM academies in Alaska. The EarthScope ANGLE (Alaska Native Geoscience Learning Experience) is directly building on two previous EarthScope-funded programs that CWU has helped run. For more information about EarthScope ANGLE, go to

“The ANGLE project solidifies CWU’s already strong role in helping the US be more prepared in the face of natural hazards,” said Dr. Beth Pratt-Sitaula, CWU professor of geological sciences and co-principal investigator of the grant. “Furthermore, ANGLE builds on CWU’s excellent track record in science education.”

Pratt-Sitaula’s previous collaborative project, Cascadia EarthScope Earthquake and Tsunami Education Program, won the Western States Seismic Policy Council National Award for Excellence in Education Outreach to Schools in 2016. Working with educators from schools, parks, museums, and community organizations has proven to be effective in spreading the word on how to live safely with the active Earth.

For the next three years, ANGLE will run three workshops for Alaskan educators and help run six Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP; Academies for middle schoolers. ANSEP is a premier STEM program for youth from rural Alaska. The first ANGLE educator workshop will be held May 29 to June 1 in Anchorage. Participants will learn cutting edge science that EarthScope is doing to better understand the geohazards many hands-on ways to engage learners in the science and hazards preparedness and mitigation. Later some of these educators will go on to work with the ANSEP students.

Alaska Pacific University (APU) is the lead institution and will receive $296,000 of the grant funds, whereas CWU will receive $208,000 and University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) will receive $58,000. The ANGLE Project Director and APU principal investigator (PI) is Jennifer Witter, who is also the STEM coordinator for the Anchorage School District. Other PIs are Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Geological Sciences Research Associate at CWU, and Herb Schroeder, ANSEP Director at UAA.

EarthScope is an earth science program using geological and geophysical techniques to explore the structure and evolution of the North American continent and to understand the processes controlling earthquakes and volcanoes. For more information about EarthScope, go to

Image: Alaskan Plate Motion measured by the Plate Boundary Observatory GPS network. Image courtesy of UNAVCO GPS Velocity Viewer

Media contact: Beth Pratt-Sitaula, Research Associate, Geological Science, 509-899-3480,