Research Fellows Selected for Denali and Other Alaska National Parks

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Date: March 27, 2012
Contact: Kris Fister, (907) 683-9583

Ten researchers have been selected to be the 2012 research fellows in Denali and other northern Alaska National Parks. Six are recipients of Discover Denali Research Fellowships for research in or near Denali National Park and Preserve, and four are receiving Murie Science and Learning Center Research Fellowships for research in one of the MSLC partner parks (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 are primarily graduate students from University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) and universities outside the state. Several are faculty or staff at universities and institutions. They were selected on the significance of their proposed research to park management issues and the scientific or scholarly merit of their proposal. This component of the National Park Service's science scholarship program will sponsor excellence in science and scholarship, gain knowledge about park resources, and create the next generation of conservation scientists.

Several research fellows working in northern parks are pursuing projects related to climate change. These include one researcher who will study the impacts that herbivores, such as moose and ptarmigan, have on rapidly changing arctic shrub environments, and another who will collect observations about changes in nature's calendar (phenology) from local residents.

Research projects slated for Denali include an archeology project at Beaverlogs Lake near Lake Minchumina; an assessment of past seismic activity and slippage along the Hines Creek fault near the entrance of Denali; documentation of cultural and natural change in Denali through repeat photography; testing Denali surface and treated drinking water sources for Giardia and Cryptosporidium ; testing a winter tracking technique to monitor furbearers such as lynx and coyote; and an investigation of the relationship of nitrogen levels in leaves of bearberry, fireweed, and bunchberry that are senescing and turning red.
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.

The research fellows and their topics are:

Discover Denali Research Fellowships:

•  Sam Coffman, University of Alaska, Museum of the North
"Sand-dune formation and human land use of Beaverlog Lakes, Denali"
•  Sara Federschmidt, University of Kentucky (Masters student)
"Paleoseismic and structural characterization of the Hines Creek/Park Road fault at Denali"

•  Ron Karpilo, Colorado State University, Department of Geosciences
"Documenting natural and cultural resource change using repeat photography in Denali"

•  Margie MacNeille, UAA (Masters student)
"Dynamics and red senescence in three northern plants"

•  Ricardo Santos, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Portugal
"Giardia and Cryptosporidium in surface and treated water of Denali"

•  Kelly Sivy, UAF (Masters student)
"Monitoring mesocarnivore community change in response to wolf presence, fluctuating prey, and snowpack"

Murie Science and Learning Center Research Fellowships

•  Katie Christie, UAF (Ph.D. student)
"The importance of herbivory in rapidly changing arctic shrub communities [working in Noatak and near Gates of the Arctic]

•  Margot Higgins, University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D. student)
"Understanding changes in the land using phonological observations by local residents in Wrangell-St. Elias"

•  Amanda Koltz, Duke University, North Carolina (Ph.D. student)
"Effects of climate-induced changes in generalist predators on the structure and function of Arctic food webs [near Gates of the Arctic]

•  Simon Pendleton, State University of New York, Buffalo (Masters student)
"Holocene glacial variability, Arrigetch Peaks, Alaska [Gates of the Arctic]

Short biographies and photos of this year's research fellows are posted here.

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 is a park partner that fosters understanding and appreciation of Denali through informative and inspiring programs.

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 graduate students, but are open to college and university faculty, undergraduates, and other researchers. Proposals for research that will help park managers make decisions about critical resource issues are encouraged. Proposals for up to $8,000 of funding to be used over one or two years are considered. Non-U.S. citizens are eligible for funding. For more information contact Research Administrator Lucy Tyrrell at 907-683-6352 or via email.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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