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Research Associate Profile: Christian Thorsberg

Research Associate Profile: Christian Thorsberg

The world of environmental science produces a great number of written texts documenting the findings and results of field research, monitoring, restoration, and the like. For many in the field, the creation of these texts is seen as a necessary task, but not one that invites enthusiasm. But GBI Research Associate Christian Thorsberg is something of an outlier on this front. For Christian, the text is what its all about.

Christian began working last month as a communications specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southern Alaska Field Office and Office of Communications teams, both based in Anchorage. But as an undergraduate at Northwestern University, he studied journalism and poetry. In moving from these to environmental reporting, Christian found “a unique opportunity to merge these disciplines.” As he explains, “communicating natural beauty, nuanced science, and uncertain futures with literary creativity and empathetic storytelling is a special pursuit. I was fortunate to complete an environmental journalism master’s degree last June, focusing my reporting on the conservation efforts of many of the Olympic Peninsula’s Indigenous communities, and the impacts of extreme weather in Alabama’s Tornado Alley. Along the way I’ve been fortunate to report with a variety of nonprofit newsrooms, including Sierra Magazine and Circle of Blue. Writing about slow or invisible phenomena, cultural and environmental, has and always will be my greatest passion.”

In his current role, Christian helps with internal and external communications, working on both traditionally reported stories and more strategic communication plans. “Topics I’ve been fortunate to learn and write about, so far, have included caribou migrations, salmon life cycles, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Alaska’s eight threatened and endangered species, and the millions of migratory birds flying in and out of the state annually. It’s been a joy to learn about Alaska, a truly gorgeous mosaic of life.”

And that joy is palpable as Christian describes the personal impact of his experience in Alaska: “Growing up in the Midwest and reporting exclusively in the lower 48, I’ve become accustomed to environmental narratives that center on restoration and corrective measures — a ‘last chance’ to conserve a landscape, river, or species that is threatened or nearly lost. Over time, in truth, it has been easy to become bogged down with pessimism, and I’ve certainly had moments in which I’ve succumbed to despair. But working with, and learning from, Alaska’s landscapes, plants, and animals — its myriad ecosystems, many of which are untouched and thriving — has given me energy and a renewed ambition. Our hope for the future must outweigh our concerns and fears, and this is why we do the work we do. The role has helped me center on these affirmations, and confirm my own personal and professional goals: that my place on earth is to appreciate, share, and conserve. I am considering this all with special care as Earth Day approaches, and am very fortunate and grateful for this opportunity with GBI.”

And we here at GBI are grateful to Christian for bringing his passion, to say nothing of his way with words, to “The Last Frontier.” In addition to his work for GBI, Christian continues to write poetry and journalism, some of which can be found on his website:

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