Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebrating the end of the business year

I was a guest at the end-of-year reception hosted by Viðskiptablaðið, Iceland’s pre-eminent business publication, which is tradionally used to name and honor the Businessman of the Year. Congratulations to this year´s recipient, Björgólfur Jóhannsson, Chairman of the Board for Icelandair. Under his stewardship Icelandair´s shares soared and the airline expanded its network of destinations both in  and the United States. The event was well attended by Iceland´s top business leadership and one could sense the vibrancy and a sense of optimism about Iceland´s future. We have experienced some of this in the U.S.-Icelandic business relationship as reflected by the establishment of the American Icelandic Chamber of Commerce, large American investments in Actavis and DeCode, a significant increase in Hollywood productions in Iceland, as well as Icelandair´s decision to expand its fleet with a significant purchase of new Boeing aircraft. We look forward to a further expansion of American and Icelandic business ties.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Icelanders express grief and sympathy for the victims of Newtown rampage

The Embassy has been overwhelmed by the expressions of grief and sympathy for the families of the victims of the unspeakable violence that took place in Newtown last week. Icelanders from all walks of life have expressed these feelings in person, using the social media, and via letters. The Mayor of Reykjavik was among them as well as representatives from other countries. At this very difficult time in the United States, we are deeply grateful for the thoughts and prayers of our friends. President Obama expressed his gratitude on behalf of our nation yesterday when he told the diplomatic corps in the United States that over the last few days we’ve seen that the entire world stands with Newtown with so many countries and their citizens sending messages to them. Thank you Iceland.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

World biotech leader Amgen invests in deCODE

I had the pleasure of meeting with Sean Harper, Amgen’s Executive Vice-President for Research and Development, and Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE, to learn about the acquisition of deCODE by AmGen.  I am impressed by the enormous potential this partnership will bring for the discovery of new treatments for cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. We are extraordinarily proud to see one of America’s flagship biotechnology corporations partner with a leading Icelandic firm to bring relief to patients around the world

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Icelandair/Boeing partnership is strong

We were honored to attend the press conference where Icelandair announced its commitment to buy 12 Boeing 737 MAX (list price of $1.2 billion) with an option to acquire twelve more. The highly fuel efficient 737 MAX will supplement Icelandair’s 757 fleet and provide it with the flexibility to expand its route network. The Icelandair/Boeing partnership reinforces the close business ties between Iceland and the United States. Our congratulations to both entities.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kennedy Center announces Nordic Cool 2013—Iceland has a strong contingent

We were delighted to hear that the Kennedy Center in Washington DC announced Nordic Cool 2013 - “…an international festival of theater, dance, music, visual arts, literature, design, cuisine, and film that brings more than 700 artists to celebrate the diverse cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands.” This event has been in the making for at least two years and our Embassy here in Reykjavik gladly supported the Kennedy Center delegations that visited Iceland several times to coordinate Iceland’s participation in the festival.

The Icelandic contingent will include Vesturport, the Iceland Dance Company, Iceland’s Symphony Orchestra, Víkingur Ólafsson, the Sunna Gunlaugs Trio, FM Belfast, Retro Stefson, Sóley, Duo Harpverk, Már Örvarsson, Maximus Musicus, Djupið, Rúri, Knitting Rhythm, Krístin Ómarsdóttir, Gerður Kristný, CCP´s Kristoffer Touborg, and more. As representatives of a multi-cultural nation, we are very proud to highlight the contributions to the arts made by cultures around the world which in many ways constitute the inspiration that some of our artists have drawn from. Readers can find detailed information in the link below.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The U.S. and Iceland Share a Love of National Parks

We had the pleasure of welcoming to the residence a group of Icelandic park rangers who recently attended a 3-week long seminar in the Washington DC area organized by the U.S. National Park Service.   The seminar is used to share American practices in national park management, covering such issues as emergency services, community partnerships, graphic design, and marketing.  A second group of Icelandic park rangers will participate in another seminar in the spring when they will visit parks in the states of Oregon and Washington.   These training opportunities were made available thanks to the generosity of the Alcoa Foundation and the participation of the Scandinavian American Foundation.   We were delighted to share with our Icelandic friends the fruits of a proud tradition of establishing and protecting our nation’s parks.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So, what did Curiosity find in Mars?

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems

There are a number of press reports suggesting that the NASA Mars probe Curiosity found something that will be recorded in the history books.  While speculation will no doubt range widely as to the nature of the find, I know that the Icelandic scientific community and the Icelandic public look forward to finding out what the discovery is.  We may find this out as early as Monday.  Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Powerhouse Alaska delegation visits Iceland

The Embassy had the pleasure of welcoming, briefing, and supporting a powerhouse delegation from Alaska composed of legislators, university researchers, government and business leaders who are visiting Iceland to explore building stronger business, government, cultural and educational alliances between Alaska and Iceland. The delegation was organized by the Institute of the North – a think tank dedicated to exploring, convening, and discussing the opportunities and challenges throughout the Arctic. It was evident from the beginning of their interactions that Iceland and Alaska share many of the same challenges and opportunities provided by the Arctic and that leaders from both have similar values and outlook. The delegation is meeting with Icelandic business leaders and senior government officials. This visit demonstrates the growing partnership between Iceland and the United States in Arctic matters and is also a concrete example of the many values and interests that we share.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Demonstrations in Reykjavik and U.S. engagement in the Gaza conflict

Many Icelanders came to the Embassy yesterday to express peacefully their views about the ongoing conflict in Gaza. They asked for the United States to intervene to stop the conflict and prevent the loss of life. The United States favors a lasting peace that includes the creation of a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel. We also recognize the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks on its population. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton are indeed engaged and working with leaders in the region to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. In fact, Secretary Clinton is on her way to the region where she will visit Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Cairo to consult on the situation in the region. She will emphasize the United States' interest in a peaceful outcome that protects and enhances Israel's security and regional stability; that can lead to improved conditions for the civilian residents of Gaza; and that can reopen the path to fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis for peace and security.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fulbright scholars in Iceland – a rich mix of disciplines and personalities

We had over for coffee at the Residence a group of American scholars currently in Iceland under the Fulbright program. It was a wonderfully diverse group of scientists and scholars in the humanities doing fascinating work in Iceland. Gene Williams is doing research at Hólar University on the long term thermal acclimation of fish in the Icelandic Arctic; At the University of Iceland, Larissa Kyzer is conducting a study of modern Icelandic literature, Tenley Banik is studying the progression of rift openings in South Iceland, and James Leary is studying Nordic cultures and American roots music while engaging his students in modern folkloric research . Lindsay Huffhines at Reykjavik University is studying factors that predict parental support of sexually abused children. During a lively exchange, I could sense these scholars are very enthusiastic about being in Iceland and well on their way to making lifelong professional and personal friendships with their Icelandic hosts.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Night in Iceland was thrilling

One of the biggest thrills for American diplomats is to be overseas on Presidential Election Day and to share election night with our hosts. Last night we were honored that so many of our Icelandic friends accepted our invitation to join us and wait for the election results.

We had well over 800 guests join us at an election night party at the Hilton that ended early this morning as results pointed to the re-election of our current President. While our democratic system is not perfect, it has served us well throughout our history and our citizens believe in it.

As for last night, it was inspiring for us to see so many young Icelanders join us and share in the revelry of watching democracy in action. The futures of both our nations rest on young people, their interest in our political processes, and their belief that they can make a difference. We saw that youthful dynamism in the United States and Iceland.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ever been to an unConference?

Our Embassy participated in Iceland’s first Innovation Unconference. It was a partnership between Landsbanki and the University of Iceland and Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council where entrepreneurs can meet investors and mentors to discuss new business ventures and how to drive further innovation in Iceland. The lead presenter was Joshua Kauffman who energized participants and helped to define the key challenges and opportunities facing Iceland’s innovators. I believe that there is a natural synergy between Icelandic ideas and American venture-capital funds and markets. This latest event is one more indication of the opportunities before us to promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and startups. It is a win-win for both the United States and Iceland.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Airwaves – A world of beautiful music in intimate settings

The Airwaves festival brings some of the world's most creative music talent to Reykjavik where they perform in mostly very intimate settings where one can almost touch the music.
The Embassy honored a group of young American and Icelandic composers and performers including the incomparable Nico Muhly, Paul Corley, Sam Amidon, Nadia Sirota, Puzzle Muteson, Daniel Bjarnasson, and Ben Frost   These artists came to Iceland through the Bedroom Community record label/collective which was established by Valgeir Sigurðsson, a very accomplished composer himself and purveyor of beautiful music.  Mary and I attended most of their performances, cementing our admiration of their music.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Supporting Iceland’s Search and Rescue Teams (Slysavarnafélagið Landsbjörg)

Iceland has a unique and highly effective Search and Rescue Team model. It is as grassroots-based as any organization can be. My guess is that 100% of the Icelandic population supports the many volunteers from all walks of life who receive rigorous training to become Search and Rescue team members. We have one Search and Rescue worker in our office and are glad to release him any time duty calls. Yesterday, I visited the “Bjorgunarsveitin Ársæll” unit in Reykjavik to purchase this year’s edition of the popular keychains that the Search and Rescue teams sell to raise funds for their organizations. I met with several volunteers, including supporters who were donating their labor to complete brand-new facilities for that group. May they raise a lot of money as this is a great cause.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Þór comes to the land of the sagas to film his own story

We were invited to visit the set where the next installment of the Þór saga is being filmed. It was an impressive operation where some very exciting scenes are being shot. For those of us living in Iceland, it seemed only natural that the producers of Þór would pick the land of the sagas to film the story, However, there is much more to it. Iceland is becoming increasingly popular as a place to produce films. In addition to providing stunning landscapes and excellent light, its film production companies are considered excellent partners by the Hollywood film production companies we have talked to. We are very pleased to see the Icelandic- American partnership grow in this sector; it strengthens both of our economies by generating employment in the United States and Iceland.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

U.S. speakers demystify the U.S. electoral system

We welcomed Rick Ridder and Bob Carpenter, two seasoned political strategists and consultants, who came to Iceland to share their expertise on the U.S. electoral system. With each representing one of our two main political parties, Rick and Bob met with a broad range of Icelanders (students, teachers, media representatives, business leaders, and elected officials) to explain the U.S. electoral system with a natural focus on the U.S. presidential elections. Many of our Icelandic friends welcomed the opportunity to discuss the elections and the current state of play. We were flattered to know that so many Icelanders care and pay attention to what happens in the United States.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

American Film takes top award at the Reykjavik International Film Festival

As we have done in the past, the U.S. Embassy supported the Reykjavik International Film Festival, which had a lot of entries from independent American filmmakers. While I missed most of the festival as I was out of the country, I managed to see “Beasts of the Southern Wild” by Benh Zeitlin, which earned the top prize —the Golden Puffin. The film tells a wonderful yet poignant story of a young girl named Hush Puppy who lives in a mythical area of the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans. Another American winner was the Film “Starlet” by American Director Sean Baker. It received the FIPRESCI Critics’ Award. In addition, the U.S. Embassy supported the screening of documentaries by American film makers on important global issues such as climate change (“Chasing Ice” by Jeff Orlowski ) and the struggle against maternal and infant mortality (“Sister” by Brenda Davis). A former U.S. Fulbright grant recipient, Andrea Sisson, screened her film inspired by her time in Iceland, a fine example of the results that emerge from cultural exchange between our two countries.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Promoting Entrepreneurship in Iceland

I was honored to receive an invitation from the newly established American Icelandic Chamber of Commerce to speak to their membership about entrepreneurship. The standing-room only event gave us an opportunity to lay out our efforts to promote entrepreneurship in Iceland and to point out the many benefits that accrue to the American and Icelandic economies from creating an ecosystem that promotes entrepreneurship in Iceland. There is plenty of evidence that the U.S. is the logical place for up and coming Icelandic firms to set up operations in order to grow their companies.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Honoring the Cowboy of the North

Earlier this year I met Hallbjörn Hjartarson--Iceland's very own cowboy. An icon and living legend, Hallbjörn single-handedly introduced and spread country and western music in Iceland. For many years he hosted a festival that brought thousands of Icelanders to the beautiful town of Skagaströnd. They sang and danced country and western music into the night, and when they couldn't be there, they would listen to it through Iceland's only country and western radio station.

Hallbjörn is a pioneer who built bridges between Icelanders and Americans through his music and festivals. He is also a warm human being. The Country Music Association in Nashville, Tennessee, agreed that Hallbjörn’s contributions should be honored with a special achievement award. I had the pleasure of presenting it to Hallbjörn on September 18 with the whole town of Skagaströnd in attendance along with family and friends. It was a wonderful evening of community, friendship, music, and fellowship.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rounding sheep in Jökulgil

Rounding sheep for the winter months is a quintessential Icelandic tradition that must be experienced. It is an opportunity to see old and new Iceland come together in a very special way. We gathered in Landmannalaugar, the departure point for a caravan of horse riders, sheep dogs, trucks, SUVs, and tractors that moved into Jökulgil, one of the most stunning canyons I have ever seen. Neither vehicle traffic nor camping is allowed in this area except on the day the sheep is rounded. As we moved through the canyon groups of young men and sheep dogs ran far up the hills to herd the sheep to the bottom where horse riders and more sheep dogs would await to collect them and put them into trailers. The sheep herders went so far up the hills that they would become a speck on the hills. As the search parties would climb up the hills, those of us waiting below were treated to the banter among old farmers, whose weathered faces spoke volumes of their lives in the countryside.

Icelanders are very proud of their independence and they bow to no king. There is, however, one king they willingly obey and he is called the King of the Mountain (Fjallköngur). The king is the master and commander of the roundup and in the case of the Jökulgil operation, his name is Kristinn Guðnason. The king rode his horse proudly giving orders, rounding sheep, and supervising the whole operation. He also stopped frequently to greet interlopers like myself and to joke around with his lifelong friends. I needed his approval to join the operation.

The King of the Mountain holds court.
The context of this experience was provided by Ragnar Axelsson (Rax), one of Iceland's top photographers and master narrator of life in the Arctic. Rax has been going to the roundup for the last 23 years and has made it the subject of books and films. His stories about previous roundups and the characters involved provided a level of granularity that made me appreciate the significance of the moment.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thanks Iceland for your concern

We have been comforted by and are deeply grateful for the condolences that many Icelanders have expressed for the recent loss of our colleagues in Libya. Many of our Icelandic friends also shared their concern about the violent demonstrations against our diplomatic facilities around the world. These expressions of solidarity reflect the deep bonds that exist between our two countries and the values we share.

The violent demonstrations appear to be a reaction to the posting of a video that appears designed to denigrate a great religion and provoke rage. We absolutely reject the content and message of the video. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. We know that it may be hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from being posted. In today’s interconnected world, this is frankly impossible, but even if it were possible, our country has a long tradition of free expression which is enshrined in our Constitution and our law, and we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be. The violent demonstrations against diplomatic facilities are wrong and nothing justifies them. Diplomatic missions exist to build understanding between peoples.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Visit from Senator Lisa Murkowski

                                                                                    Photo: Fréttablaðið/Anton

Last week we had the pleasure of welcoming Senator Lisa Murkowski and members of her family to Iceland. While here, she participated in a meeting of Arctic parliamentarians in Akureyri and met with President Grimsson, Foreign Minister Skarphedinsson and several members of the Althingi. Senator Murkowski comes from Alaska and she said Iceland felt a lot like home and the many natural affinities between Alaska and Iceland were clear to her.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Commemorating the victims of September 11

As is our tradition, Embassy colleagues gathered in front of our Embassy to commemorate the victims of the September 11 attacks on the United States. We observed a minute of silence to reflect on the events of that fateful date and to draw strength from some of the lessons we have learned as a nation. As President Obama said,  “…On this solemn anniversary, let’s remember those we lost, let us reaffirm the values they stood for, and let us keep moving forward as one nation and one people.”

Monday, September 10, 2012

A visit to the Song of the Whale

 I had the pleasure of paying a visit to the Song of the Whale, a research ship owned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).  The Song of the Whale works around Iceland on a regular basis to conduct and demonstrate the effectiveness of non-lethal cetacean research.   We were treated to some of the recordings made by whales and dolphins.  Much of the ship’s work in Iceland is conducted in cooperation with the University of Iceland.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hólar--a deeply spiritual and historical place

 Hólar is a very special place in northern Iceland that captures in one spot the compelling history of the Icelandic people, the country's natural beauty, and the Icelandic character. The centerpiece in a beautiful valley is the cathedral, which was 
originally established in the 11th century, a recently built tower, and the university. The magnificently preserved cathedral countains an exquisite altarpiece from the 1500s, a life size crucifix from the same period, and many other pieces. These items bring to life different aspects of Iceland's history: the reformation, Danish rule, the first printing press and its role in preserving the language, the role of the church in education, and Iceland's rapid ascent in the community of nations since independence.

Hólar University College - the American connection

It was my great pleasure to meet Erla Björk Örnolfsdóttir, Rector of Hólar University College, during my visit. The school focuses on aquaculture and fish biology, equine studies and tourism. While the school dates back centuries as an educational institution, it only recently became a full fledged university. It is clear that Erla's energy and creativity is going to make the school into a major institution of higher education. In fact, the school welcomed American scholar Catherine Chambers to conduct a major studies of fisheries in Iceland. I was also pleased to learn that Erla is a fan of country and western music, which she picked up at while earning her PhD at Texas A&M.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Deep connections between Iceland and the U.S.

I was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Iceland National League. This organization is composed of Icelanders and Americans and Canadians of Icelandic descent who are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Iceland’s heritage and its contributions to North America. This group embodies the deepest connection between Iceland and the United States and their mission is as noble as it is enriching. For readers in Iceland, I would recommend making an effort to attend a presentation titled “The Love of Iceland in America” which Pam Olafson Furstenau is making throughout Iceland in the coming days. Pam is an American of Icelandic descent who has captured beautifully the meaning of being Icelandic-American. Her blog at has all the information about upcoming presentations as well as her impressions of her latest trip to Iceland.

Friday, August 24, 2012

American scientist partners with Hólar University College to conduct fisheries study

Last year, we welcomed Fulbright scholar Catherine Chambers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks to Iceland to conduct a study on the social dimensions of fisheries. Her work was so well received that Hólar University College asked her stay to continue her research through the Blönduós Academic Center and assess the differences and implications of different fisheries management systems. Some of the questions Catherine would like to answer include: Can a truly sustainable fishery be good for fish and bad for fishing livelihoods? How do different management schemes affect’s people’s abilities to access resources and engage in culturally and historically important livelihoods? Aside from her academic background in anthropology, marine biology, and economics, Catherine brings experience as crew on fishing vessels in Alaska. This is another example of the partnerships and trust that typifies relations between American and Icelandic educational institutions.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

American support for Keilir’s programs

We welcomed James Gentry, an environmental scientist from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, who will be spending a few weeks at Keilir to assist in the development of collaborative relationships between Keilir and American universities and small businesses. The thrust of the initiative is to open doors of the American scientific community so that Keilir can expand its research activities in collaboration with U.S. counterparts. We are especially pleased to witness Keilir’s growth and to support its effort to strengthen its academic programs. We have a commitment to support the Reykjanes peninsula’s efforts to increase educational opportunities and employment

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

American Jazz in Iceland

We always look forward to the Reykjavik Jazz Festival as it brings a broad range of performers and composers of America’s best known art form: Jazz. Last night we attended Deborah Davis’s wonderful concert at Kaldalón in Harpa and were immediately absorbed by her cheerful personality and fantastic voice. Her interpretations of Abbey Lincoln’s “When There is Love” and her poem ‘The Kiss’ were indeed memorable. We look forward to the performance by Jim Black´s ‘Alas No Axis,’ Ari Bragi Kárason´s collaboration with New York´s "Melismetiq," Jack Magnet´s performance that features American guitarist Paul Brown, the tribute to the music of American Jazz pianist Lennie Tristano, the 17- piece brass ‘What Cheer? Brigade’ from Providence, Rhode Island, Quintett Scott McLemore’s concert, the homage to Glenn Miller’s music, and the performance by American guitarist Bill Frisell. You can find the time and location of these performances at:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sharing and IFTAR dinner with the Muslim community in Iceland

We were honored to host the leadership of the Muslim community in Iceland at our residence to share an Iftar dinner. We invited members of the Association of Muslims, the Islamic Cultural Center of Iceland, and representatives from the National Church, the Ministry of the Interior, and the City of Reykjavik to share an evening meal to break the fast observed by Muslims around the world during the holy month of Ramadan. We also used the opportunity to welcome and introduce two recently arrived members of the U.S. Embassy community who were also observing Ramadan. It was a pleasant evening of sharing and reflection.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Young Icelander wins U.S. contest

I had the pleasure of presenting to 11-year-old Ólina Helga Sverrirsdottir a certificate and two gifts as the middle school winner of the Alice Challenge--a program designed to encourage young people between the 3rd and 8th grades to surf safely online. As the winner, Ólina used the software program “Alice” to develop an animated video to encourage safe online surfing. Ólina’s video is posted on the website. The Alice Challenge program is a partnership between the FBI and Carnegie Mellon University.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Visit to the Islamic Cultural Center

At the invitation of the Islamic Cultural Center, I visited their facilities in Reykjavík. The Center has been operating since 2009 with the objective of providing the Muslim community in Iceland a place for gathering, reflection, and prayer and a place to welcome all Icelanders interested in learning about Islam. I had the opportunity to hear from the Center’s leadership about their plans and aspirations as members of Icelandic society. I look forward to hosting members of the Center and of the Muslim Association of Iceland for an Iftar dinner next week. This traditional dinner, held during the Ramadan holiday, is an opportunity for reflection and for fellowship.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Curiosity – a triumph for science, humanity, and the future

Image: AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
It is hard not to be caught by the whirlwind of excitement caused by the safe landing of Curiosity on the surface of Mars. Many of us dreaded the “seven minutes of terror” when there was no communication with the vessel as it made its way to the surface. Curiosity will explore a large area and will travel quite a bit in an attempt to collect samples and conduct experiments that attempt to answer whether the building blocks of life exist on that planet. The landing is a triumph for scientists the world over, for NASA, and man’s quest for knowledge.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

American-Icelandic designer in Iceland earns prestigious recognition

Chuck Mack, an American-Icelandic designer living and creating designs in Iceland, just signed a contract with Design House Stockholm - a prestigious and widely recognized product development company. Chuck has been working with Iceland’s Design Center for some years and has participated in Iceland’s premier event Design March. I met Chuck early in my tenure and was impressed with his designs and tenacity. His partnership with the Design Center is bringing recognition to American – Icelandic cooperation in the design field.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The beauty of educational exchanges

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ásgeir Sigurðsson, the newly appointed Chairman of the
Department of Endodontics at the prestigious New York University School of Dentistry.
Dr. Sigurdsson epitomizes the benefits that educational exchanges give Iceland and the United States. Throughout his distinguished career in dentistry, Dr. Sigurdsson has worked both in Iceland and the United States building bridges between the University of Iceland and the University of North Carolina by providing opportunities for Icelandic students to go the U.S. and for American students to come to Iceland. We wish Dr. Sigurdsson much success in his new position knowing that he will continue to build those bridges that are so beneficial to both countries.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jambalaya in Reykjavik!

This summer, we have the fortune of having an intern from Louisiana. Brittany Crockett, a law student at Louisiana State University, brought more than her smarts and hard work to our Embassy; she brought us a taste of Louisiana and shared it with the Embassy. Brittany invited the entire Embassy staff to taste several versions of the world famous Jambalaya – a tasty Louisiana Creole dish. Many of our Icelandic colleagues tasted it for the first time and rated it AAA+. We’d love to see a Cajun restaurant open in Reykjavik some day.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

American-Icelandic scientific cooperation at the frontier of climate knowledge.

We welcomed U.S. Research Vessel Knorr to Reykjavik this week. The Knorr, which is operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, is known as the vessel that discovered the Titanic and hydrothermal vents at the bottom of the ocean. The Knorr has been visiting Iceland for many, many years to conduct oceanographic research in the area. One of its recent trips was used to study the recent discovery of a warm current around Iceland by two leading Icelandic oceanographers. The potential implications of the newly discovered current for climate change could be enormous.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gufuskálar - a fine example of the American-Icelandic science partnership

The archeological dig at Gufuskálar is a great example of the longstanding partnership between American and Icelandic premiere scientific institutions. A group of American and Icelandic archeologists have been digging the site where a large Icelandic fishing station operated at least since the 15th century.

The site promises to provide invaluable insights into the practices of Icelandic fishermen who traded dry cod with European merchants. It is quite possible that practices in the Snæfellsness peninsula differed from those of the West Fjords. The project is a partnership between the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Icelandic Archeological Institute, and the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Our best wishes to Frank Feeley who is writing his PhD dissertation on Gufuskálar.