Student Research

IGERT Students Publish Research on Climate Change & Arctic Soils

EurekAlert AAAS  |  March 16, 2016

Warmer, wetter conditions in the Arctic are accelerating the loss of carbon stored in tundra and permafrost soils, creating a potential positive feedback that further boosts global temperatures, a Dartmouth College study finds.

The Effects of Off-shore Drilling on Barrow, Alaska

by Michael Berger '14, Stefansson Research Fellowship, Barrow, Alaska

My research focused on how the Barrow, Alaska community could stand to benefit from offshore oil drilling that could happen over the next several decades. I looked at how political and corporate institutions such as the North Slope Borough and the Arctic Slope
Regional Corporation are acting as players in securing benefits from the drilling.

I had to first understand the cultural and political framework and history of oil in the North Slope, including understanding the Inupiat people. This type of social science research is incredibly self-driven. There was no one telling me where to go, whom to talk to, which leads to follow and which to let drop.

Among other things, my time in Barrow allowed me to consider the role of the social scientist. In a world where knowledge is both temporally and spatially distributed, the role of the social scientist is not to generate new knowledge, but instead to learn from a situation in one place and time and share it in a different place and time period, and to find patterns or similarities between situations across both space and time.

Emergency Preparedness in Peru

During the summer of 2016, Jade McLaughlin ’17 and Madellena Thornton ’17 worked as Global Health Initiative interns at Hospital Cayetano Heredia (HCH) in Lima, Peru. Their work on emergency preparedness focused on the willingness of healthcare workers to respond in a disaster.

by Madellena Thornton ‘17

The eight districts in Northern Lima stricken by poverty are incredibly vulnerable to devastation from a natural or biological disaster due to the lack of first-response services, potentially collapsible and densely clustered housing, and enormous education and income disparities. Hospital Cayetano Heredia (HCH), a general level III-1 hospital, constitutes one of three hospitals in the Ministry of Health in Northern Lima. Among the three hospitals, there are fewer than 900 beds. With a population of 2.75 million people, these hospitals together have insufficient capacity for healthcare, overwhelmed emergency services, and large gaps in disaster risk management for the population that they serve.

Shackleton Exhibits on 100th Anniversary of the Rescue of the Endurance Crew

Rauner Special Collections Library and “Pole to Pole,” an environmental studies course taught by Institute of Arctic Studies Director Ross Virginia that examines climate change in the polar regions through the lens of history, exploration and science. Fifty-one Dartmouth students shared their research to produce this exhibit exploring Shackleton and the Antarctica of his time.

The exhibit —“We look for light from within”: Shackleton’s Indomitable Spirit — is open to the public until September 2, 2016. View a related exhibit in the Russo Gallery of the Haldeman Center about Institute of Arctic Studies programs to take young, budding scientists to Antarctica and Greenland. 

Blogging from Antarctica with Middle School Students in Vermont

In January 2015, Ruth Heindel, an earth sciences PhD student, and Jessica Trout-Haney, a PhD student in ecology and evolutionary biology, went to Antarctica to conduct research. They created a blog that they used to answer questions from middle school students back in Windsor, Vermont. Here are some of the students' questions about deserts, ice sheets, helicopters and more.  

by Ruth Heindel, Earth Sciences PhD Student

[January 30, 2015] By the time this is posted, I'll be somewhere over the Southern Ocean, heading toward Christchurch, New Zealand. We’ve had an incredible month here in Antarctica, and it’s been wonderful to share our experiences with you all. Here’s one final blog answering more questions from the students in Windsor, VT. Many thanks to the students who asked such great questions – you have made us think about our experiences from new perspectives. We can’t wait to meet you sometime this spring!

How are Antarctica’s Dry Valleys desert similar and different to warm climate deserts here in the US?

Gone South for the Winter -- to Antarctica

February 17, 2015  |  Dartmouth Now by Joseph Blumberg

Dartmouth undergraduate Diana Wise ’15 spent two weeks of her winter break in the dramatic domain of Antarctica, an experience she captured in a blog, “Gone South For the Winter,” which she filed from the field.

“Diana participated in the field portion of a multi-university Antarctica study abroad program that Environmental Studies and the Institute of Arctic Studies are supporting this year for the first time,” says Lee McDavid, the program manager at the Institute of Arctic Studies at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding. “Diana is the first student to enroll in this program, a unique opportunity, given that most students conducting field work in Antarctica tend to be graduate students.”

Student Organization Takes STEPS to Connect Science with Policy Issues

September 9, 2014 |  Dartmouth Now

Download slides from a September 29, 2014, presentation (PDF).

As scientists and scholars grapple with shrinking research budgets and out-of-touch politicians, a group of Dartmouth graduate students have founded the Science Technology and Engineering Policy Society (STEPS), an organization working to engage students at the intersection of science and policy.

Founding members include IGERT graduate students Julia Bradley-Cook, a PhD student in ecology and evolutionary biology, and Ali Giese, a PhD student in earth sciences. Both attended the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Summer Policy Colloquium, in Washington, D.C., in June 2014, along with IGERT earth sciences PhD student Gifford Wong.

How Temperature Change Affects the Greenland Ice Sheet

Gifford Wong, Ph.D. Student, Earth Sciences

Gifford Wong looks at the effect of climate change on the growth and decay of the Greenland Ice Sheet (GIS). He studies how changes in temperature affect our ability to assess the health of the GIS.

During the summers of 2010 and 2011, Gifford collected snow samples from pits (~2 m depth) and cores (~10-100 m depth) in the northwest GIS along a traverse route that roughly connects Thule Air Base with NEEM camp and Summit Station in Greenland. He took these samples back to the labs at Dartmouth where he prepared them for chemical analyses.

So far, Gifford has characterized how snow pit chemistry in the dry snow zone of the GIS is affected by percolating melt water. He also observed how the rate of change in snow accumulation is different between more coastal sites than it is in the interior of the GIS. This observation may improve our ability to model glacier mass changes with our changing climate.

The Yeti Robot Looks for Dangerous Crevasses

Rebecca Williams, PhD, Engineering

Rebecca William’s research while she was a Thayer School of Engineering graduate student involved creating higher-level intelligence and control software for a four-wheel robot called Yeti. It pulls ground penetrating radar behind it to find crevasses. Each year heavy equipment resupply missions travel to remote, heavily crevassed locations in Greenland and Antarctica. Rebecca worked on the Yeti robot that tows Ground Penetration Radar to detect crevasses.

In 2012, she also worked on Roosevelt Island on the eastern side of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica in an 8-nation project to reconstruct the climatic and glaciological history of the Ross Sea region since the last ice age. The eastern side of the embayment is the missing link in understanding how this critical region has responded to climate changes in the past, and a more detailed understanding of the climate changes and associated ice behavior will enhance our ability to inform projections of sea level rise into the coming centuries.

Preserving Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Greenland

Simone Whitecloud, PhD student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Simone Whitecloud documents plant names and uses in order to preserve traditional knowledge. Plant ranges are changing in response to a changing climate, and her data will preserve knowledge that would otherwise be lost as plant ranges shift and practitioners lose access to the same plants.

During the summer of 2011, Simone worked with her collaborator, Lenore Grenoble from the University of Chicago, to document plant uses in southern Greenland (Qassiarsuk and Nanortalik) by interviewing community-recognized plant experts. She used fresh and dry plant samples, as well as photos, to speak via an interpreter with nine women and one man about names, uses, and to document pronunciation.

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