Maynard M. Miller (1921 - 2014)

Dr. Maynard Miller, the beloved founder and long-time director of JIRP, passed away January 26th at his home in Moscow, Idaho. 

In the coming days and weeks we will be adding more images, stories, videos, and history of his phenomenal life.  Eventually this content  will be stored permanently on a dedicated page of the JIRP website. 

Until then, however, we will be adding content here on the JIRP blog.  One intention for this is so that you can share a remembrance of Mal; please do so in the comments below and help us honor and memorialize Dr. Miller.  

If you would like to contribute images, stories, or videos in Mal's remembrance please be in touch with FGER Vice President Matt Beedle by email (

Dr. Maynard Miller on the Juneau Icefield.  Photo courtesy of the Miller family.

Dr. Maynard Miller on the Juneau Icefield.  Photo courtesy of the Miller family.


Dr. Maynard Malcolm Miller on a Juneau Icefield Expedition in November, 1953.  Photo by Ira Spring.

Dr. Maynard Malcolm Miller on a Juneau Icefield Expedition in November, 1953.  Photo by Ira Spring.

Maynard Malcolm Miller, explorer, committed educator and noted scientist whose glaciological research was among the first to identify hard evidence of global climate change as a result of human industrial activity, died on January 26 at his home in Moscow, Idaho. He was 93.

Dr. Miller was Emeritus Professor at the University of Idaho where he previously served as Dean of the College of Mines and Earth Resources, and Director of the Glaciological and Arctic Sciences Institute. The Institute, along with the Juneau Icefield Research Program, founded in 1946 and developed in partnership with his late wife Joan Walsh Miller, inspired more than 4000 students through hands on involvement in scientific research in remote mountain environments in Alaska and around the world.

As a scientist and climber on America’s first Mt. Everest Expedition in 1963, Miller conducted research on atmospheric pollution and other contributors to climate change. On that historic expedition, as the West Ridge climbers returned from the summit, Miller sacrificed his precious scientific water samples, laboriously collected from the Khumbu Icefall, in order to rehydrate the exhausted climbers.

Although a deeply spiritual person, Maynard Miller did not believe in any God of organized religion; instead, he found inspiration in the magnificence and wonder of nature. He also believed that through the challenge of rugged mountain expeditions, where teamwork is essential to achieve a common goal, the best in each individual may be revealed. His great joy was to share and provide these experiences for others.

A native of the Northwest, Miller graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma, Washington. He studied geology and glaciology, receiving degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University, and his PhD from Cambridge University, England. During WWII Miller served on a Navy destroyer, seeing active duty in 11 major Pacific campaigns and sustaining injuries during an aircraft attack at sea. Late in life, Miller served three terms in the Idaho State House of Representatives where he advocated for expanding educational opportunities.

He will be remembered for his enthusiasm, unrelenting optimism and phrases such as, “stress helps you grow” and his closing on mountain radio transmissions, “mighty fine, mighty fine”.

Miller is survived by his sons and their spouses, Ross Miller (Denise), and Lance Miller (Jana). Miller also leaves behind his beloved grandchildren, Logan, Anna, Zachary and Eva, extended family in the Puget Sound area as well as scores of grateful students, scientific collaborators and co-adventurers.

Celebrations of the life of Maynard Malcolm Miller will be announced at a future date.

Newspaper and other print articles:

Remembering Dr. Maynard 'Mal' Miller, by Mary Catharine Martin, Juneau Empire, Feb. 14, 2014

A Remembrance of Dr. Maynard M. Miller, by Eduardo Crespo, April 4, 2014

Tribute to Dr. Maynard M. Miller, by Keith Daellenbach, Feb. 27, 2011

Educator and scientist Maynard Miller Dies at 93, AAG Newsletter, Feb. 18, 2014

Book: 'Memories of Maynard M. Miller and Other Juneau Icefield Lore'

For a limited time only (while supplies last) you can purchase a copy of a revised, spiral-bound 2nd edition of the 2011 Memories of Maynard M. Miller and Other Juneau Icefield Lore. Total cost, including shipping and handling, is $35. All proceeds go directly to JIRP.

Articles by Dr. Maynard Miller

On Reaching Upward, published in Appalachia in 1950

Historical audio and video from KTOO Radio - Juneau:

Thank you to KTOO's Matter Miller (@KTOOMatt) for this content.

Remembering Mal

"Some years ago, after the JIRP presentation and all the students had departed Atlin, Mal dropped in at my place for a chat and to share some nice red wine he had with him. Naturally we discussed the state of the world, and JIRP and other programs. As we came to relaxed and much more cheerful final comments, he said to me 'You know, it's kids like this that give me hope for the future. They really care, and they worked so well together (contented sigh).' Thanks, Mal!"

-- Nan Love, Atlin, BC

Image gallery:

Select any of the photos below to open a slideshow of all the images.

Joan W. Miller JIRP Scholarship Fund

Joan Walsh Miller – the late wife of long-time JIRP director Dr. Maynard M. Miller – was the behind-the-scenes engine that made JIRP work.  A January 7, 1984 article in the Idahonian/Palouse Empire Daily News on Joan’s work reports her saying:

“Mal is the ‘soul’ of the program, and she’s the ‘workings’ of it”

For over fifty years Joan was devoted to the success of the Icefield program. Each year, for decades, Joan made the trek to Juneau and on to Atlin to take the helm of the logistics and business administration that steers a successful JIRP field expedition.  Joan’s efforts extended beyond the summer program to off season fundraising, proposal writing, reports, reunion organization, newsletter preparation, writing reference letters for students, and more.  

Joan took much pride in her JIRP efforts as they lead to the direct support of more than 1,500 students and some 400 associated faculty and staff during her decades of involvement.  It is beyond doubt that without Joan’s many years of devoted support our JIRP experiences would not have been.

In memory of Joan, her phenomenal dedication to JIRP and particularly to JIRP students, we are excited to announce the Joan W. Miller JIRP Scholarship Fund.  Donations will be used to help cover tuition costs of selected participants so that the JIRP experience can be accessible to all prospective students.        

Please join the members of the FGER (Foundation for Glacier and Environmental Research) board of trustees, and others in giving generously and supporting future JIRP students.  Help make the JIRP experience that we are privileged to have lived an opportunity for others.  Your tax-deductible donation can be made online via PayPal, or directly to FGER via check or credit card:

Online via PayPal:

By sending a check or credit card details to:

Foundation for Glacier and Environmental Research
4616 25th Avenue NE, Suite 302
Seattle, Washington 98105

Please make checks payable to FGER, and note that your donation is for the JWM JIRP Scholarship Fund.

As with the M3 JIRP Legacy Fund we would like to offer you the opportunity to send a personal note to the Miller family along with your donation.  You may include your personal message in the PayPal checkout process or with your donation via the FGER mailing address.

Your contribution to the Joan W. Miller JIRP Scholarship Fund helps to preserve Joan’s phenomenal legacy and to support future JIRP students in her name.  Thank you for your ongoing support of the Juneau Icefield Research Program.

Link TV: Juneau Icefield Expedition

By Matt Beedle

In 2013 JIRP was fortunate to have photographers and documentary film makers Jeffrey Barbee and Mira Dutschke as members of a great crew of staff and faculty.  In addition to their efforts to help JIRP run smoothly and safely Jeff and Mira produced two fantastic video episodes on the 'Juneau Icefield Expedition' for Link TV.  Enjoy!

Thank you, Jeff and Mira! 

Maynard M. Miller JIRP Legacy Fund

Dear friends of JIRP,

Our dad (Dr. Maynard M. Miller, M3 ) is 92 and living at home in Idaho.  He is weak but is generally happy and gives thumbs up when discussing the future of JIRP.

To boost his spirits we often talk about the icefield. And as a special boost we have an idea for a gift, that if successful, we would like to share with him.  In the coming months we want to celebrate him and his decades of leadership with a gift that will help bridge to a bright JIRP future – the M3 JIRP Legacy Fund.

Donations will be used to ensure ongoing maintenance of the icefield infrastructure that he worked so hard to make possible, and which continues to enable the annual JIRP field season.  Funds will be used to endow maintenance of this vital infrastructure, and, specially, to renovate his room at Camp 10 as a student research lounge, archive, and museum of JIRP history. In addition, resources will be allocated to organizing and archiving data, photographs, maps, films and other documentation of the nearly 70 years of work on the Juneau Icefield.  These two streams of focus – maintenance of icefield infrastructure and archival of historical data – constitute a significant portion of  M3’s legacy, and the legacy of JIRP.

We ask you to join us, members of the FGER (Foundation for Glacier and Environmental Research) board of directors, and others in giving generously to the M3 JIRP Legacy Fund.  Your tax-deductible donation can be made:

Online via PayPal:

By sending a check or credit card details to:

Foundation for Glacier and Environmental Research
4616 25th Avenue NE, Suite 302
Seattle, Washington 98105

Please make checks payable to FGER, and note that your donation is for the M3 JIRP Legacy Fund.

Along with your generous donation we would like to offer you the opportunity to send a personal message to our dad, and to have your name included in a list of donors that will be presented to him and on a commemorative plaque in the future, renovated building at Camp 10.  Include your personal message in the PayPal checkout process or with your donation via the FGER mailing address.  Please specify if you wish to remain anonymous.

With your help we can give M3 a tremendous gift - one that honors him, but also helps ensure a bright JIRP future for decades to come. 

We also want to introduce the forthcoming Joan W. Miller JIRP Scholarship Fund, which will be formally announced in October, and have the ongoing goal to help make the JIRP experience accessible to all prospective students.  Through these two funds we - along with the FGER Board – aspire to honor our parents, recognize their many decades of leadership, and ensure a bright future for JIRP.   

Thank you for your generous support of the Juneau Icefield Research Program.


Lance and Ross Miller

JIRP: Filling in the Blanks Since 1946

Dear Friends:

The 2013 Juneau Icefield Research Program has come to a close. The students have successfully and safely completed the traverse from Juneau to Atlin, and each has rightfully inscribed their name on the storied rafters of Camps 17, 10, 18, 26, and 30. I suspect that each is now excitedly recounting their own stories to family and friends, while also seeking quiet moments to reflect on their summer (as is necessary following such a long seclusion on the icefield). Many of these stories will share similarities with those told by past years’ JIRPers, while others will be shared just among the students of JIRP 2013. Odds are that these stories will be retold for many years.

JIRP 2013 participants at Camp 30 in Atlin, BC.  Photo by J.L. Kavanaugh.

Aldo Leopold wrote, “To those devoid of imagination a blank place on a map is a useless waste; to others, the most valuable part.” The Juneau Icefield can perhaps be considered the type locality for these blank places, appearing so even in many of today’s satellite images.  As has been the case every year since JIRP’s inception, each student spent their summer on the icefield working to fill in its vast blank space with learning, discoveries, memories, and friendships. In doing so, they created individual value and meaning for the place; furthermore, they added immeasurably to the value and meaning of JIRP.  As in the past, they performed the annual mass balance and glacier geometry surveys (including surveys both at the Taku Glacier terminus and in the Gilkey Trench) and completed individual projects, this year spanning topics in glaciology, snow science, hydrology, geology, atmospheric science, botany, and entomology.  While doing so, they also forged an extraordinary bond of friendship and mutual support that was truly incredible to witness.  I would like to thank each and every student for their outstanding contributions to the field expedition, to camp life, and to the academic and research lifeblood of the program.  It is because of students like you that I am certain that JIRP’s future is secure.

I would also like to thank the members of the teaching, research, and medical faculty, including first-time JIRPers Jason Amundson, Anthony Arendt, Gabrielle Gascon, Uwe Hofmann, Eran Hood, Lindsey Nicholson, Bill Peterson, and Stanley Pinchak, plus JIRP stalwarts Polly Bass, Cathy Connor, Jack Ellis, Christian Hein, Paul Illsley, Bill Isherwood, and Alf Pinchak.  The effort each of you put into developing and delivering the academic program and supervising student projects made JIRP 2013 the success that it was.  Special thanks go to Jay Fleisher, whose wisdom and insight continually surprise and inform, and to Jeff Barbee and Mira Dutschke, whose tireless efforts added immeasurably to the summer – and measurably, too, in the form of incredible photography and video footage that we will enjoy for years to come.

There is no way for me to sufficiently thank the logistics and safety team. Your efforts ensured that the season ran far more smoothly and safely than could be expected of any program involving 50+ people in a remote field setting.  This team included Field Logistics Manager Scott McGee, Juneau Logistics Manager Zach Miller, Carpenter/mechanic Ben Partan, and field safety staff members Kate Baustian (Camp 18 Manager), Annie Boucher (Camp 17 Manager), Sarah Bouckoms (Blog Coordinator and Camp 30 Manager), Matt Pickart (Camp 10 Manager), and Adam Toolanen (Safety Training Manager).  I also include in this list Matt Beedle, who ensured that our blog posts from the field were uploaded in a timely manner.

Finally, I would like to thank all of those who followed the blog this summer.  I hope that it provided a portal into the daily lives of the JIRP students, faculty, and staff – while showing that the icefield is both nowhere as blank as it seems and extremely valuable to those fortunate enough to traverse it.  May the students of JIRP 2013 continue to seek out blank spots on the map, and to fill them with value and meaning.

With best regards,

Dr. Jeffrey L. Kavanaugh