2020 Seed Grants
Congratulations to the recipients of our 2019-2020 Research and Education and Outreach Seed Grants! This year we awarded six faculty research grants of up to $20,000 each, six student research grants of up to $4,000 each, and three Research and Education grants of up to $10,000 each. The recipients will conduct research or education/outreach projects over the 2019-2020 academic year that are aligned with Fire and Ice goals and objectives. The grantees are:
Coastal Margins faculty
- Benjamin Barst, a postdoctoral researcher at the Alaska Stable Isotope Facility at the UAF Water and Environmental Research Center, for “Investigation of mercury contamination of stream water and nearshore biota collected along a gradient of glacial influence.” Barst will study mercury levels in Alaskan glacial watersheds, focused on mussels and coho salmon collected as part of Coastal Margins research in Lynn Canal and Kachemak Bay.
- William Burt, an Assistant Professor or Oceanography in the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, for “Characterizing groundwater input across a glacial gradient in Kachemak Bay using naturally-occurring radium isotopes: A proof-of-concept study.” Burt will conduct a baseline survey of radium isotopes in Kachemak Bay to assess the role of submarine groundwater discharge and other key fluxes in the region’s hydrological and biogeochemical cycles.
- Gwenn Hennon, an Assistant Professor of Oceanography in the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, and Jason Fellman, a Research Assistant Professor at the UAS Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center, for “Investigating microbial productivity at the terrestrial-marine interface in Lynn Canal.” Hennon and Fellman will use microbial incubation experiments to study how the concentration and source of riverine dissolved organic matter influence microbial community composition and productivity.
- Eric Klein, an Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences in the UAA Department of Geological Sciences, for “Understanding glacier precipitation sources and meltwater contributions to intertidal systems in Kachemak Bay, Alaska.” Klein will collect water and core samples from the Harding Icefield, as well as rain and water vapor isotope samples, to better understand the past and present moisture sources supplying precipitation to Kachemak Bay glaciers as well as the water isotope signatures associated with the glaciers.
Boreal Fires faculty
- Micah Hahn, an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health at the UAA Institute for Circumpolar Health Studies, for “Modeling the association between cardiorespiratory hospitalizations and particulate matter from wildfire smoke in Anchorage and Fairbanks to support adaptation and resilience planning.” Hahn will study data on air quality and emergency room visits to determine whether the heat and short-term cumulative smoke exposure experienced within a fire season may exacerbate the impact of acute smoke exposure on respiratory and cardiorespiratory health.
- Sveta Yamin-Pasternak, a Term Assistant Professor in the UAF Department of Anthropology and Water and Environmental Research Center, for “Morel trends in Alaska Boreal Forest, perspectives from local foragers.” Yamin-Pasternak will use archived data and insight from morel foragers in Fairbanks and Galena to examine interdependencies of morel fruiting and boreal forest fires.
Coastal Margins students
- Amy Dowling, a master’s student in marine biology at the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, for “Variability in Pacific blue mussel (Mytilus trossulus) demographics in a glacially influenced estuary.” Dowling will travel to Juneau to learn how to age Pacific blue mussels, enabling her to correlate the age of mussels collected through the Fire and Ice project with the drivers of environmental variability found along glacial gradients.
- Carolyn Hammam, a master’s student in fisheries at the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, for “A regional comparison of thermotolerance in saffron cod Eleginus gracilis based on HSP70 concentrations at the critical thermal maximum.” Hammam will use laboratory experiments to determine whether saffron cod populations from the Beaufort Sea and the Gulf of Alaska have adopted population-specific thermal adaptations for their respective regions.
- Jordan Jenckes, a master’s student in geology at the UAA Department of Geological Sciences, for “Groundwater contributions to streams and intertidal waters of Kachemak Bay.” Jenckes will combine a stable isotope mixing model with tritium analysis to determine the timing and amount of groundwater entering stream channels in Kachemak Bay watersheds as a function of season and watershed type across a glacial- to precipitation-fed gradient.
- James Schloemer, a master’s student in marine biology at the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, for “Watershed influence on terrestrial resource use in nearshore marine consumers.” Schloemer will combine isotope mixing models and remote sensing of watersheds to document terrestrial resource use by terrestrial invertebrates, and to identify which watershed characteristics contribute most to the type of organic matter being used by the invertebrates.
Boreal Fires students
- Elizabeth Hinkle, a Ph.D student in Fisheries at the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, for “Post-wildfire response of stream habitat and aquatic macroinvertebrate assemblages in the boreal forest.” Hinkle will conduct sampling in two Interior Alaska streams, one of which burned in summer 2019 and the other of which has not burned for 80+ years, to study the impacts of fire on stream habitat and on the abundance and diversity of macroinvertebrates.
- Chris Smith, a master’s student in Geography at the UAF Department of Geosciences, for “MaD BoV (Mapping Detection of Boreal Vegetation).” Smith will engage Alaskans in collecting geotagged photos of vegetation cover from geographically dispersed and remote sites in order to ground truth Boreal Fires map products.
Education and Outreach faculty
- Alison Gardell, an Assistant Professor of Biology at UAA Kenai Peninsula College, for “Student-centered leadership for a newly established citizen science beluga monitoring project in Cook Inlet, Alaska.” Gardell will enable students at Kenai Peninsula College to participate in a project to collect and analyze the distribution and habitat use of endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales.
- Carie Green, an Associate Professor of Graduate Education in the UAF School of Education, for “Equipping educators to empower children as environmental stewards.” Green supported her class of six UAF graduate students to investigate childrens’ concepts of environmental stewardship through participatory research projects in Fairbanks, Kenai and Scammon Bay.
- Shannon Atkinson DeMaster, a Juneau-based Professor of Fisheries at the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, for “Engaging pedagogies for STEM students studying ecological change in Alaska.” DeMaster will hold a pair of workshops designed to excite members of underrepresented groups about STEM fields, on the topics of “Anatomy and physiology of Alaska’s culturally important marine mammals,” and “Environmental applications of drone technologies.”
Travel Award Recipients
23 faculty, staff and students from across the University of Alaska received Alaska NSF EPSCoR travel awards in 2019. The funds will enable the below individuals to present at conferences, or travel to collaborate on their research:
- UAF graduate students Rebecca Cates and Lia Domke will travel to the NCEAS Reproducible Research Techniques for Synthesis workshop in Santa Barbara, Calif. in November to learn about current data science techniques, with an emphasis on “R” software.
- UAF graduate student Jonathan Chriest will attend the American Meteorological Society’s Fire and Forest Meteorology Symposium in Palm Springs, California in May to present his research on “Convective precipitation as a proxy for lightning across Alaska.”
- UAF staff Patrick Church will attend the NCURA Conference in Washington, D.C. in August to expand his knowledge of post-award grant management.
- UAF graduate student Gail Dabaluz will attend the Association of American Indian Affairs Repatriation Conference in Fort McDowell, Ariz. In November to present research into the legal definition of the Native American Graves Protection Repatriation Act and its applicability to Alaska’s Tlingit and Haida tribes.
- UAF graduate student Emilia Grzesi will attend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December in San Francisco to present her research into the impacts of an intensified fire regime on Interior Alaska’s black spruce-dominated landscape.
- UAA Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve staff Chris Guo will travel to Juneau in October to receive training from the UAF Coastal Fisheries Ecology Lab in data collection and sample processing of juvenile salmonid diets.
- UAF graduate student Luke Henslee will attend the Alaska Chapter of the American Fisheries Society meeting in Fairbanks in March to present his research into nearshore migration trends of salmon stocks in Norton Sound.
- UAF graduate student Julia Hnilicka will travel to multiple rural Alaska communities as part of a project to create a school curriculum based around PurpleAir air quality sensors.
- UAS faculty member Eran Hood will attend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December in San Francisco to present data on physical and chemical properties of coastal rivers in Southeast Alaska.
- UAA faculty Britteny Howell will attend the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America in Austin, Tex. in November to present findings on the impact of climate change to vulnerable older adults in Anchorage.
- UAA graduate student Jordan Jenckes will attend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December in San Francisco to present his research on the impacts of freshwater and nutrients to the intertidal zone in the Gulf of Alaska.
- UAA faculty Eric Klein will attend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December in San Francisco to present his research into how discharge across a gradient of glacially fed rivers varies as a function of climatic variables.
- UAF graduate student Nina Lundstrom will attend the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage in January and the Western Groundfish Conference in Juneau in April-May to share her research into the impacts of glacial meltwater on nearshore fish communities in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska.
- UAF graduate student Katie McCabe will attend the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage in January to present findings on the impact of glacial melt on estuarine ecosystems.
- UAF graduate student Margaret Rudolf will travel to Utqiagvik in January to serve as a participant-observer on a sea ice-related climate change adaptation project.
- UAF faculty Madhumita Sahoo will attend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December in San Francisco to present research into modeling of soil nutrient movement in a warming climate.
- UAA faculty Jennifer Schmidt will attend the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December in San Francisco to present her research on assessing the effects of firebreaks on ecosystem services and wildfire risk.
- UAF graduate student Chris Smith will attend the IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium in Waikoloa, Hawaii in July to present his research into using hyperspectral imagery and scale-up methods to produce more accurate fire fuel maps.
- UAA undergraduate Jeffrey Wagner will attend the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation Course in Front Royal, Virginia in June to study camera trapping study design and data analysis.
- UAF graduate student Marina Washburn will attend the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage in January to present her research into the effects of ocean acidification on the Pacific razor clam.
- UAF undergraduate Emily Williamson will travel to Juneau twice in early 2020 to collaborate with a PhD student on a project to use homesteader journals as a source of historic streamflow data.
- UAF graduate student Jiake Zhou will travel to Fort Collins, Colo. and Jackson, Wyo. In October to meet with experts in agent-based modeling to strengthen his research into shrub expansion in the Arctic.
Here are the full judging criteria for all three lines of grant funding.