Peter Buck Internship Fund Recipient
When I was twelve years old, I declared to my parents that I wished to become a polar explorer. This inspiration came from an exhilarating Boy Scout winter campout where I learned to cross country ski, ice climb, and build a quinzee hut. Six years later, I enrolled at Bowdoin College because of its rich Arctic exploration history and snowy winters. This past semester, I studied in Iceland and Greenland as part of a Climate Change in the Arctic study abroad program. While living in the sub-Arctic, I realized the ice-covered, polar bear-infested region that I had envisioned as a child is no longer a reality. My program delved into the effects of increased greenhouse gas emissions and ocean acidification, which are destroying Arctic environments. I had the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in high-latitude regions and was inspired to learn all I could about the Arctic and the perils it faces in the coming century. My past experiences, my goal of becoming an Arctic field researcher, and my concern for the health of all environments are what draw me to an Earth Sciences research project at the University of Minnesota.
My research project will focus on invasive earthworms’ effects on the cycling of necessary nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, in Northern Sweden. This will be measured by examining how plant distribution and soil horizons have changed over time. By actively participating in this study, I will learn how to quantify shifting nutrient concentrations in organic soils, attribute these changes to biogenic sources, and map the historical movements of these organisms based on extensive data collected in the field. Earthworms were introduced to Sweden two centuries ago by humans, and the unintended consequences are now unfolding more rapidly than ever. I am excited to witness how human influence and intervention will continue to alter our natural environments, so I intend to learn how to better predict their ecological effects.
In addition to learning valuable skills, I hope to gauge the work environment of the University of Minnesota’s Earth Science program, as I hope to attend graduate school there. It is likely my graduate studies will be related to agricultural or ecological problems caused by climate change, how to mitigate these processes, and how to change our practices to better do so. This research project will serve as a perfect intersection of earth science (Arctic warming via greenhouse gas emissions), biology (the changing environment of the Arctic which affects how native and introduced species coexist), and anthropology (humanity’s impact upon the world we live in and depend upon).
Gaining an understanding of climate change’s many complex manifestations is important for researchers, policymakers, and citizens alike. This is incredibly applicable in our current political climate—where knowledge, consideration, and funding for our environment may be threatened. With this research experience, I hope to pursue a lifelong career in which I will find methods that enable human progress and environmental health to coexist symbiotically.
- Date October 18, 2017
- Tags 2017, Buck, Environment, Junior, Science, USA