May 31, 2012 Meet the Team and a Water Track
Now that I have been at Toolik for almost four weeks, I am getting used to the daily routine. I have seen and been a part of the significant effort that is required to get a new project off the ground. At this point, all the water tracks are flowing and the automated instruments are recording data. I am also enjoying getting to know my fellow team members and have been inspired by their dedication to science. As we get to know each other some commonalities emerge. We all love being outside and interacting physically with the environment around us.
Let’s meet the team…
Our project is headed up by Dr. Tamara Harms and Dr. Sarah Godsey.
Tamara is an ecosystem ecologist and biogeochemist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (UAF). Throughout her education, Tamara was fortunate to have attentive mentors and always wanted to do research. As an undergrad, Tamara jumped right into research working in cancer and virology labs at University of Washington. Then by working at Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research site in MN, she quickly learned that studying ecosystems was more up her alley. A year as a salmon biologist cemented that idea and off she went to Arizona State to work on her Masters and PhD in Riparian Ecology. She now studies in the Arctic and Boreal Forest. These permafrost influences regions store a lot of carbon and nutrients and are responding quickly to climate change. It is important for us to understand the fate of these materials. Tamara’s advice for undergrad students is to talk to your instructors and teaching assistants right away, volunteer to work in the lab, and get hands on experience.
Dr. Sarah Godsey is an assistant professor of catchment hydrology in Geosciences at Idaho State University. She discovered that her science and travel bugs combined well during a study abroad program in Costa Rica in her sophomore year of college. After returning to the University of Virginia, she decided to take more science classes including hydrology. She went on to pursue fieldwork in Latin America, where she learned how to build weirs. (vertederos in Spanish). She did a Masters working on tropical forest hydrology at the University of Cincinnati and then decided to return to work in mid-latitudes during a PhD at UC Berkley. Sarah likes going places where water data will show the impact of land use change or climate change, so she’s worked in the tropics, in the mountains of the western US, and in the Arctic. She also enjoys the community of scientists at field stations around the world, including here at Toolik.
This current project developed through conversations over chocolate and tea one night at the Toolik dinning hall. Sarah and Tamara took advantage of the midnight sun for a late night sampling trip to a location that was across the valley from several water tracks. This trip led to discussions about future collaborations that emerged into the water tracks project. It is really interesting to have collaboration between a hydroligist and a biogeochemist on this project.
Caitlin Rushlow has a Masters in geology from University of North Carolina and is now one of Sarah’s PhD students at Idaho State University. Caitlin will be at Toolik all summer while many of the other team members come and go. She went to college thinking she was going to study to become a Latin or Math teacher, but then she took a geology course. She found that geology fieldwork allowed her to be outside learning in an active manner and decided geology was the way to go. In her free time at Toolik (which isn’t much), Caitlin enjoys Euchre (a card game for those of you who are unfamiliar) and badminton. The tent that houses the front end loader is frequently used for badminton.
Margit Jaeger, just arrived last week and is an undergrad at UAF. She will be at Toolik much of the summer working with Caitlin and doing some lab work back in Fairbanks. Margit grew up in Fairbanks and has always lived in a dry cabin. A dry cabin just means that they don’t have running water and need to haul water up to the cabin. It also means that they have an outhouse rather than a flush toilet. Dry cabins are very common in Alaska, especially where permafrost makes it difficult to have water lines. She also spent part of each year in Germany, her mother’s home country. She was inspired by a high school science teacher to continue studying science in college.
Molly Tedesche has a masters in snow hydrology from Colorado State University and is now a PhD student at UAF. She was up lending her expertise to the project during the pre-melt time, but has since departed to head back to Fairbanks. Molly was an engineering undergrad, but after a Student Conservation Association internship as a vegetation management consultant in California she fell in love with the mountains. Molly loves to be outside applying her math and science knowledge in winter environments.
Several other team members will be joining the team throughout the summer including co-project investigators Jay Jones (UAF) and Mike Gooseff (Penn State University) and Becca Risser, a masters student at UAF.
Meet a water track
I mentioned in a previous journal that water tracks are flowpaths down tundra hillslopes. Since most people aren’t actually familiar with a water track, I made a short video to introduce you to one of our water track sites. Enjoy!