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Science Diplomacy across the Bering Straits: Experiential Learning as an Opportunity for Thawing US-Russian Relations

By Saleem H. Ali, Helena Voinov Vladich and Caroline Karp Introduction The geographic point where the Russian and United States’ mainlands are closest lies in the Bering Strait between the State of Alaska and the Russian territory of Chukotka (Fig. 1, 2). At this point, these countries are less than 82 km (51 miles) apart.…

Russian Cowboys Learn to Ride Western

American cowboy Shane Stotler points out his truck window at a herd of cattle just cresting a hill on the horizon. Normally, he’d be out there riding with the Russian workers he’s been hired to train by Miratorg, Russia’s largest cattle operation. Instead, he’s waited for me at ranch headquarters so we can drive out…

Soviet Sausage Returns to the Menu in Russia

Mr. Demin shakes hands like a snapping turtle bites a carrot. Then he pulls you close and says, with a mixture of sincerity and urgency, how glad he is to meet you. This one-two punch of a first impression is the secret of success for a man who has salvaged a bastion of the Soviet…

Close Encounter with a Polar Bear

After photographer Cory Richards joined the Pristine Seas expedition to Franz Josef Land in the Russian Arctic, he spent over a month trying to capture an image of a polar bear from a relatively close distance. On his final attempt, a teammate launched a remote-controlled quadcopter, or drone, and the polar bear ended up right where they wanted him.

“World Spay Day” Aims to Reduce Numbers of Feral Cats and Dogs

If a street dog or cat could read a calendar, it would circle in red the last Tuesday in February. It’s World Spay Day, when volunteers round up stray animals in an effort to humanely control the feral populations. The campaign was started in 1995 by the Doris Day Animal Foundation, with the goal of…

Steak Story, Part 1: The MosCowBoy

The ribeye steak was called the MosCowBoy. When I cut into it, juice squished out onto the ceramic plate. Each tender bite made my taste buds light up with all six of the essential flavors (sour, salty, sweet, bitter, and especially umami and fat). This was five years ago, in June 2011, when I’d just finished…

Apocalypse Paused: Scenes From Soviet-Era “Ghost Farms”

Picture two giant farms: one the size of France; the other the size of Wisconsin. That is how many acres of agricultural land sit fallow in Russia (45 million) and Kazakhstan (35 million).   The 250,000-acre Chilinka Collective Farm, in northern Kazakhstan, was once known as an oasis on the steppes. It was home to 500…

Watch: Adorable Amur Tiger Cubs, New Hope for Endangered Species

Post written by Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova. I am delighted to share with you this just captured, rare footage of Zolushka (Cinderella in Russian), playing with her two new cubs in the wild of Bastak Reserve in Far East Russia.

Smile For Me, Russia

They hide in plain sight. When shooting street photography in Russia, odds are good you’ll encounter them. Anti-photobombers. They’re everywhere. Let’s play “Where Are the Anti-Photobombers.” In the picture above, can you can find them?

Food Fight! (or, Will Russia Let the Tomatoes Fly?)

Which has more firepower: an air-to-air missile or a Roma tomato? One can down an aircraft, but the other can cripple a food industry. When Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet, President Vladimir Putin said he felt “stabbed in the back.” There would be consequences, he promised, for the attack that ultimately killed two…

When Cows Fly

It was five years ago, this November, when a team of cowboys transplanted a ranch in a box from the Montana range to the Russian steppes. We traveled by truck, plane, and ship to settle on Stevenson-Sputnik Ranch. The anniversary has me in a sentimental mood, something cowboys are prone to feel anyway. It doesn’t help…

Brie de Guerre: Russia’s Cheese Politics

My waiter recommended the cheese plate. I was eating at LavkaLavka, the farm-to-table restaurant in Moscow that I profiled last week for The Plate. It’s your typical hipster-run establishment, with bearded waiters in t-shirts, jeans tight-rolled at the ankle, and (for most of them, anyway) tattoos poking out between hem lines. “Delicious Russian cheese,” he…

Blood Moon Over Red Square

Act One: A Good Idea The last time a Blood Moon shone down on Red Square, it was 1982. Soviet officials were strict about photography. You couldn’t just traipse on down to the Kremlin and snap a shot. But thirty-three years later, photographers are a lot more free. I would set out to get that picture and…

Home, Home on the…Steppes?

A great migration is underway in the world of ranching. Cowboys from the United States, Canada, and Australia are taking cattle by the thousands to Russia and Kazakhstan. Why? To help solve major food security problems.

Arctic Diplomacy requires Convergence of Military and Scientific Interests

Scientists and the military have a long history of engagement but largely in a client-donor relationship. Yet, global environmental change is providing another opportunity for more “natural” convergent cooperation that was manifest at an unusual meeting of academia and the military held at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR) at the University…