Research Fellows Selected for 2008 - Murie Science and Learning Center Expands Fellowships to Additional Parks

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Date: May 7, 2008
Contact: Kris Fister, 907-683-9583

The National Park Service and the Murie Science and Learning Center have selected eleven research fellows for 2008. Five researchers are recipients of Discover Denali Research Fellowships offered by the Denali Education Center through the Murie Science and Learning Center (MSLC) for research in or near Denali National Park and Preserve. Six researchers are receiving funding from the MSLC for research in one of the Central Alaska or Arctic Network national parks, which include 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 graduate students and faculty members from universities in Alaska and 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.

Discover Denali fellows are tackling research questions in botany, ecology, geology, and physical and biological aspects of climate change. Research topics include the Hines Creek geologic fault, impacts of permafrost thawing on plant species composition and distribution, and the landscape and climate of Denali 65-70 million years ago.

Each research fellow will present a talk during the summer season about their project and any related research conducted previously. Discover Denali Research Fellowship recipients will also develop an educational product about their research, such as a poster or a classroom study module for the MSLC.

MSLC researchers will explore soils, climate change, Dall’s sheep, wood frogs, and archeology in northern parks. The researchers will explore such diverse issues as the genetic diversity of Dall’s sheep and pre-historic inhabitants of the Brooks Range.

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

Discover Denali Fellows and Research Questions Being Addressed

  • Patrick Brennan, Purdue University - How does the Hines Creek Fault function at the surface and at depth?
  • Dr. Jessica Cable, University of Wyoming - How will water from permafrost degradation (thaw) affect plants with roots of different depths and what does this mean for plant species composition and distribution?
  • Dr. Alexander Milner, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska - How do the chemical and physical properties of water flow in the Toklat River interact to increase biological diversity in upwelling channels?
  • Kirk Stueve, Texas A&M University - What local site conditions are correlated with tree establishment at treeline?
  • Susi Tomsich, University of Alaska Fairbanks - What information from Lower Cantwell Formation sedimentary rocks and paleosols (old soils) helps explain how the landscape and climate was changing right before the extinction of dinosaurs (Late Cretaceous)?

Murie Science and Learning Center Research Fellows and Research Questions Being Addressed

  • Andrew Brown, University of Alaska Fairbanks (Denali) - Can we build a model, which is sensitive to climate change, to predict patterns of wetland use by wood frogs?
  • Barbara-Lynn Concienne, University of Colorado (Denali) - How do bacteria and other microorganisms colonize newly-exposed soils when glaciers retreat and how might that ecosystem successional process be affecting by climate change?
  • Hanna Lee, University of Florida (Denali) - What is the effect of climate change on the carbon currently locked in permafrost soils?
  • Gretchen Roffler, USGS, Alaska Science Center, Anchorage (Wrangell – St. Elias) - Are Dall’s sheep genetically diverse across the landscape and what kind of parasites are they carrying?
  • Dr. Patrick Sullivan, University of Alaska Anchorage (Noatak National Preserve) - How do soil temperature and water content compare on tussocks, in inter-tussock areas and in frost boils and does this explain the success of spruce seedlings in treeline advance?
  • Andrew Tremayne, University of Wyoming (Gates of the Arctic) - How were Denbigh people living in the Brooks Range and how did their tools change over time?

The Discover Denali fellowship program is 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 (MSLC) research grants are made possible by a partnership between Alaska Geographic and the National Park Service. The Murie Science and Learning Center was established in the spirit of the Natural Resource Challenge, a National Park Service initiative aimed at increasing research and education efforts in our national parks. Its fellowship programs are expected to continue in 2009. They are open to undergraduate and graduate students, college and university faculty, state and federal agency scientists, and private-sector researchers. Proposals for research that will help park managers make decisions about critical resource issues are particularly encouraged. A typical fellowship grant is around $3,500; however, proposals for up to $5,000 are considered. For more information, please contact Denali’s Research Administrator Lucy Tyrrell at (907) 683-6352 or e-mail us.


Last updated: April 14, 2015

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