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Alaska biotech Founder wins international entrepreneur award

A college student won an international entrepreneur award for finding a way to extract rare earth metals without damaging the environment. Michael Martinez is a University of Alaska Anchorage science student whose mother’s family hails from Kotlik.

Martinez found a way to use microbes to extract rare earth metals without creating toxic byproducts. He created the company Arctic Biotech Oath to develop and market the technology. The High North Dialogue Conference in Norway gave Micheal Martinez the High North Young international Entrepreneur Award.

Martinez said that this is a Yup’ik and Indigenous people’s win up here in Alaska. This not only shows we are capable of doing the basic research, but this shows that we can impact a great sector. Not only of upcoming technology, but something people are looking forward to in the future.The system Micheal Martinez designed of using microbes to extract rare earth metals is cleaner than other methods. Rare earth metals are needed in the construction of computers and other electronic equipment, including cellphones. Martinez attended the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program in Anchorage.

Two Yup’ik engineers are trying to push the Yugtun language into the future, using technology. Their latest project opens the door for Yugtun autocorrect, grammar checkers, and automatic subtitles on Yup’ik videos. There are only a handful of Yup’ik computer scientists in the world, according to Christopher Egalaaq Liu of Bethel and Lonny Alaska Strunk of Quinhagak. The pair have teamed up to create what is likely the most advanced Yugtun translation tool available online. Christopher Egalaaq Liu said that there is nothing like it, it’s the first tool of its kind.

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