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    Denali

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Research Fellows for Denali and Other Alaska National Parks Selected for 2010

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Date: March 29, 2010
Contact: Kris Fister, (907) 683-9583

Research Fellows for Denali and Other Alaska National Parks Selected for 2010

The Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC) has selected four research fellows for 2010. Two researchers are recipients of Discover Denali Research Fellowships for research in or near Denali National Park and Preserve. Two additional researchers are receiving Murie Science and Research Fellowships for research in one of the MSLC partner parks in arctic and subarctic Alaska, which are Bering Land Bridge, Cape Krusenstern, Denali, Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk Valley, Noatak, Wrangell-St. Elias and Yukon-Charley Rivers. This year’s research fellows include a researcher in Alaska and three graduate students from outside the state. They were selected on the significance of their proposed research to park management issues and the scientific or scholarly merit of their proposal. Their research will continue to expand the scientific efforts taking place at Denali and other Alaska national parks.

The research fellows are pursuing projects related to changing climate and changing cultures. One researcher will conduct glacier terminus surveys in the Kichatna Mountains (southwestern Denali) to complement the park’s monitoring of glaciers and their shrinking volume over time in response to global warming, while another researcher will ask questions related to thawing of permafrost soils near Denali. Two cultural anthropology studies are funded: one researcher will be studying the complex social organization prior to European contact in northwestern Alaska by studying how ceramics were made and traded, while another researcher will conduct archaeological surveys near the Savage River in Denali to learn more about the use of stone projectile points and microblades.

Each Discover Denali and MSLC Research Fellowship recipient will develop an educational outreach opportunity or product about their research, such as a poster, fact sheet, classroom study module for the MSLC, or a public lecture or seminar. 

A complete listing of the research fellows and their topics is below:

Discover Denali Research Fellowships
 (Researchers will conduct research in or near Denali National Park and Preserve):
• Joe Bickley, Alaska Backcountry Consulting
“Glacier terminus surveys and photo documentation in the Kichatna Mountains, Denali National Park and Preserve”
 
• John Blong, Texas A&M University 
“Prehistoric upland use in Denali National Park: a proposal to conduct archaeological field research along the Savage River”

Murie Science and Learning Center Research Fellowships
(Researchers will conduct research in one of the eight MSLC partner parks in arctic and subarctic Alaska):

• Caitlin Hicks, University of Florida
“Carbon cycle changes in warming Alaska: Do plants or soil microbes drive changes in ecosystem respiration?” [working near Denali]

• Shelby Anderson, University of Washington
“Late prehistoric social change in northwest Alaska: a study of ceramic procurement, production, and distribution in the Arctic” [working in Western Arctic Parklands]

The Discover Denali Research Fellowships are made possible through proceeds from Discover Denali, an MSLC program developed in partnership between the Denali Education Center and the National Park Service. The Discover Denali program helps Royal Celebrity Tours participants learn about Denali’s natural and human history. The Denali Education Center seeks to connect people to Denali through research, education, and communication.

The Murie Science and Learning Center Research Fellowships are made possible through the
partnership between Alaska Geographic and the National Park Service. The Murie Science and Learning Center provides research, discovery, and learning opportunities within arctic and subarctic National Parks to promote appreciation and caring for our natural and cultural heritage. As part of its mission to connect people with their public lands, Alaska Geographic provides staffing and funding toward MSLC operations.

Both research fellowship programs are offered annually. They are particularly appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students, but are open to college and university faculty, and other researchers. Proposals for research that will help park managers make decisions about critical resource issues are encouraged. A typical fellowship grant is around $3,500; however, proposals for up to $5,000 or more are considered. For more information contact Denali’s Research Administrator Lucy Tyrrell at (907) 683-6352 or Lucy_Tyrrell@nps.gov.

-NPS-

Did You Know?

an arctic ground squirrel on its hind legs

Nearly 500 vegetation plots have been installed in Denali, to monitor climate change. Warmer temperatures allow woody plants to grow at higher elevations, invading the fragile and unique plants already in high alpine tundra - and threatening the animals that depend on those specialized plants.