From the Field

Looking Back: Dartmouth Seniors Reflect on Transformational Dickey Center Experiences

by Alexander A. Lopez '15

Photo: Evan Diamond ’13, Mahmud Johnson ’13, Lars Blackmore

As Dartmouth says goodbye to the Class of 2013, the Dickey Center asked seniors to reflect on the global learning that informed their passions, interests, and career paths. The following stories represent a sampling of the many amazing undergraduates that the Dickey Center has worked with over the past four years.

Evan Diamond '13:  Transforming Education and the Environment through Art 

Evan Diamond '13 knew he wanted to attend Dartmouth in the second grade. An avid ski-racer, growing up in Connecticut, Diamond described skiing at Dartmouth as “the dream.” Diamond’s dream became a reality when he was recruited to the Dartmouth ski team after rigorous preparations undergone at his private boarding school in Vermont.

Competitive skiing enabled Diamond to travel around the world, from Argentina to Chile, and throughout much of Europe. After two years, however, Diamond became injured and was unable to ski his junior season.

A Perfect Stepping Stone to International Economic Development

Todor Plamenov Parushev ’14
International Internship, Chile

Todor Plamenov Parushev ’14 completed an internship with the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile. The UN-ECALC is a part of the UN Economic and Social Council that works in the areas of economic and social development, executing independent economic research, providing advisory services to governments, and other support activities towards public policy pre-shaping.

Todor’s internship focused on the field of infrastructural development, and specifically on how public policies on logistics and mobility are conceived, designed, implemented and controlled. The team that Todor worked with focused on resolving problems of transportation and logistics supply and demand by mathematical modeling, exploratory data analysis and predictive analytics of transportation data.

Improving Water Access in South Africa

by Georgi Klissurki '14, ThinkImpact, South Africa

My summer in South Africa working with ThinkImpact helping villagers find ways to improve water access has had and will continue to have an extremely strong impact on my life. Academically, I realized how well my two majors, engineering and economics, combine in real life, and particularly in entrepreneurship. In addition, I found great value in design thinking, an approach to innovation that integrates numerous disciplines and emphasizes empathy through utilizing the so-called human-centered design method.

I have serious post-graduation plans to work as an entrepreneur aiming to create positive social impact. Immediately after Dartmouth, I will continue gathering professional experience working in anti-trust economic consulting in New York City. After two or three years, I plan on attending graduate or professional school, if I feel that I can grow significantly there.

Following those years, I intend to return to my home country, Bulgaria, to start a career at the intersection of entrepreneurship and government.

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.

How Do Salmon Find Their Way Home?

Marcus Welker, PhD Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Marcus Welker studies salmon and how they find their way home. Salmon are born in rivers, migrate to the ocean or lakes, and return again years later to the place they were born with incredible precision.

Specifically, Marcus is measuring amino acids in rivers that are believed to give each river a unique chemical fingerprint that salmon learn as juveniles, remember as adults, and use to discriminate their home streams. Marcus wants to know if these chemical fingerprints are unique to ever river and if they are stable over time – the two criteria necessary for salmon to use them as a signal.

Additionally, Marcus is conducting an experiment in a hatchery to determine if salmon can learn amino acid patterns as juveniles and use these to remember patterns as adults to make decisions in a large fish-maze. While doing the experiment, Marcus is also measuring the genetics of amino acid sensing receptors in salmon noses – the sensory system believed to be critical for home stream selection.

"Cool Robot" Uses Ground Penetrating Radar To Save Lives

Benjamin Walker, PhD Student, Engineering Sciences

Ben Walker studies ways in which to conduct safe crevasse detection for sup¬ply traverse personnel through robotics research. Each year a heavy equipment resupply is conducted between Thule, NEEM and Summit Camp, Greenland, and this resupply must traverse heavily crevassed sections of the Greenland Ice Sheet to complete the job. Ben’s research is developing a robot and instrument combination that will automatically collect and interpret this data.

During his fieldwork season at Summit Camp in June of 2013, Ben increased the reliability of the solar power system of a robot—the “Cool Robot.” This robot tows the Ground Penetration Radar, which is used to detect crevasses. Ben and his colleagues performed multiple long-distance runs in order to determine the solar power available and the daily range of the system.

Temperature and Pollination in Greenland

Christine Urbanowicz, Ph.D. Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Christine Urbanowicz studies the pollinators and plant-pollinator interactions that are beneficial for flowing plants in Greenland’s tundra ecosystem. She is interested in how variation in plant density and temperature influence the number of pollinators that visit flowers and the number of fruits a plant produces. She is also collecting data on parasites of bumblebees in Greenland.

In 2013, Christine counted the numbers of insects visiting flowers in six sites around Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, that were subjected to different wind conditions. She collected and identified insects at these sites, and collected and identified pollen off their bodies to determine the plants that each insect visits.

During the summer of 2014, Christine is determining how variation in temperature in Kangerlussuaq affects the pollination and fruit set of blueberry as well as a few other plants. Climate change is expected to cause drastic changes in vegetation in Greenland, and many of these changes will be mediated by the availability and composition of pollinators.

How Does Climate Change Affect High Latitude Aquatic Ecosystems?

Jessica Trout-Haney, Ph.D. Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Jess Trout-Haney studies how climate change affects high latitude aquatic ecosystems, specifically their physical, biochemical, and biological properties. She studies how differences in lake chemistry and morphometry of low-nutrient Arctic lakes affect the abundance of cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins in southwestern Greenland.

In the summer of 2013, Jess surveyed 19 lakes of varying size and depth between Kangerlussuaq and the Greenland Ice Sheet in southwestern Greenland. She ran sonar transects across each lake in order to generate maps of lake basins. Additionally, she collected lake water, phytoplankton, and zooplankton samples in order to examine how nutrients, species composition and cyanobacterial toxins vary among lakes.

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