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A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Contributing to Environmental Justice: Ramsey ’18 at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, Alaska

Hi I’m currently in Fairbanks, AK working at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a part of their REU program. I’ve been here for about a month now, and things are going very well. I have been working a lot with the Apex field crew on carbon fluxes in peatlands as well as working with my advisor, Eugenie Euskirchen, on some sap flow data as my final project for this internship. As far as contributing to environmental justice, there are a lot of opportunities here to get involved in projects with native communities and understanding how they’re being impacted by climate change as well as working with the general population of Alaska.

The image to the left is one of the field sites I work at. It’s a rich fen with no underlying permafrost, an integral feature to Alaskan ecosystem. Permafrost is essentially frozen ground. We also have a field site located a bog that is underlaid by thawing permafrost due to climate change, and a spruce forest underlaid by intact permafrost.
I’ve also done a bit of backpacking with the other students. We went to Denali national park.
We also went to Valdez, AK. It’s home to a lot of wildlife and brings in a lot of money from ecotourism, like wildlife viewing cruises, but it is also the site of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Valdez, like the rest of Alaska, also gets a lot of money from the oil industry in stark contrast with the picturesque wildlife and scenery we think of when we think of Alaska.
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I'm a third year Environmental Science major at Antioch College. I'm interested in continuing to improve the well-being of the planet through scientific research and knowledge. I am a self-directed student with excellent communication, interpersonal and problem solving skills. I am a hands-on team worker and critical thinker who can quickly learn in a new environment and develop useful expertise to produce significant contributions. My first co-op was pent at Nature's Kennel Sled Dog Racing and Adventures where I worked hands on with the dogs feeding, grooming, and running them. There I learned the importance of "grunt" work because for the dogs, "grunt" work, aka tedious tasks, are what keep them alive and well. I also gained a great deal of patience. Dogs aren't the easiest to work with and it doesn't help that you can't explain to them why you need to trim their nails as they fight against it, so you have to work slowly to allow the dog to become comfortable and to remain calm when the dog begins struggling again. My second co-op was at The Land Institute, a research center developing perennial grains. I worked there as an intern, providing support to all of the researchers working there. I would thresh grains and do data entry as well as cleaning pots and weeding fields. This co-op helped me realize that I wanted to conduct research for a living and that I would need to pursue a phD to achieve my goals.  For my third co-op, I worked at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. I was an Ocean Acidification Intern helping Dr. Emily Hall study the effects sea cucumbers have on calcium carbonate concentration. The experiment didn't turn out as we'd hoped, but I'm realized that I was interested in finding a field that allows a healthy mix of fieldwork and lab work because I didn't enjoy being stuck inside all day everyday. I enjoyed the opportunity to network that Mote provides. I had made connections with other departments and learned about their work to have a better overview of what was going on at Mote.  As I continue with my college journey, I hope to narrow down my interests and start applying for graduate school. I would also like to keep learning in and out of the classroom in all subjects!

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