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Anchorage’s Dirk Derksen Receives Distinguished Alumni Award

Award presented at April 25 ceremony.

Minnesota State University, Mankato Media Relations Office News Release, 5-2-2014

Mankato, Minn. – Dirk Derksen of Anchorage, Alaska, received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from Minnesota State University, Mankato last week.

Derksen (pictured), who recently retired as chief of the Wetlands and Terrestrial Ecology Branch of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, is one of eight 2014 alumni award winners. He was honored at an April 25 ceremony hosted by the Minnesota State Mankato Alumni Association.

Alumni Achievement Awards go to graduates who have achieved high rank or honor in their professions and have had a major impact on their communities.

Derksen graduated from Minnesota State Mankato in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He earned a master’s degree in biology from Minnesota State Mankato in 1969 and a doctorate from Iowa State University in 1974.

Derksen’s research focus at Minnesota State Mankato was mammalian anatomy and physiology. He decided to switch paths and pursue avian ecology after an invitation to study Adelie penguins in Antarctica. While at Iowa State , Derksen pursued his interests in ornithology, ecology and wildlife management. This training prepared him for his future career as a wildlife biologist with the United States Department of the Interior (USDI) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

In 1976 Derksen started working as a wildlife biologist and supervisory research biologist with the USFWS in Anchorage, Alaska. He continued to supervise migratory bird, terrestrial mammal, and genetics research with the USFWS and then with the U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center until his retirement in 2011.

In 1996, Derksen received the USDI Meritorious Service Award for research he had conducted on wetlands and water birds on the North Slope of Alaska. He has also served on national and international committees such as the Alaska North Slope Science Initiative, Arctic Outer Continental Shelf Study Team, the U.S./Canada Sea Duck Joint Venture, and as a member of the Alaska SeaLife Center Science Advisory Committee.

Derksen lives in Anchorage, Alaska, with his wife, Margaret, and now works on various writing projects as a volunteer with the Alaska Science Center.

Those who want more information about the April 25 awards event may go to or call (507) 389-3235.

Minnesota State Mankato, a comprehensive university with 15,409 students, is part of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system, which comprises 31 state institutions.

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