A 50+ resident of Fairbanks, Alaska, Merritt has had a varied professional career including 30 years at the University of Alaska that included working as a ballistic meteorologist and flight safety officer at the Poker Flat Research Rocket Range, doing research on a floating ice island above 70 degrees North in the Arctic Ocean, as Associate Director of the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute, Assistant to the Chancellor, and the University System Associate Vice President for Human Resources. He has written numerous grant proposals, resulting in multi-million dollar and smaller projects, on some of which he served as project director. Merritt spent time on T-3 Fletchers Ice Island, on Banks Island, in Barrow, Alaska, in Resolute and Inuvik, NWT, worked and visited McMurdo, Scott, Plateau and Amundsen-Scott Antarctic stations. He worked as an ice technician for two months on the SS Manhattan, the first commercial transit of the North West Passage. He has “Helfferich Glacier” named in his honor by the US Board on Geographic Names and is a Fellow of the Explorers Club.
Merritt has an extensive experience with program development, direction, evaluation, analysis, report and proposal writing and a 16-year history working with and for indigenous peoples and Alaska Natives and on grant programs benefiting their education. A 30-year member of the Society of Research Administrators, International he worked in research support, academic, research and technology transfer administration, legislative advocacy, and, early on as a field research project leader, often found himself freezing in both the Arctic and Antarctic. He then, after serious reflection, set on a different course of endeavor.
He graduated from the University of Alaska with a BA and has a Master of Public Administration degree (science policy and organizational development) from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has for many years helped to create, direct and manage 30+ volunteer service organizations and has advised nonprofit organizations for decades. He served on the board of the International Small Satellite organization, as a member of the board of Fairbanks’ Women in Crisis, Counseling and Assistance shelter, as President of a credit union and as a commissioner on the Alaska Women’s Commission. He is the initiator of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Chena Riverfront Commission and served on the commission as chair for 10 years. He created and has been CEO of Innovation Consulting, Inc. since 1997. He serves as principal consultant for Innovation Consulting working on public-private partnerships, science and public policy and tribally-controlled education in Alaska. He presently is conducting external project evaluations for several organizations. For fun, he gives workshops on “Humor in the Workplace,” and sails, hikes and bikes.
Merritt has hiked the 193 mile Coast-to-Coast trail in England and the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Last fall he bicycled from Prague to Vienna to Bratislava and finally to Budapest a 550 mile trip. He sailed a 25-foot sloop from Vancouver, BC to Valdez, Alaska and other sailing trips. He was boat captain on a seismic transect project along the Yukon River. He biked from Montreal to Quebec City, from Glacier National Park through Waterton Glacier International Peace Park and back to Montana, he has biked the KT Trail in Missouri, and had other bike trips in New Mexico, Arizona, Alaska, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Poland and he hiked the Milford Track in New Zealand. Merritt and his partner made the first hot air balloon flight ever from Barrow, Alaska.