Faculty, students conducting research in Siberia

Video by Becky Tachihara of the 2011 The Polaris Project research trip.
Western Today staff

Western Washington University Associate Professor of Environmental Science Andy Bunn will take two students to the Siberian Arctic this summer as part of The Polaris Project, an international research project that started in 2008 to look at how global climate change is affecting the Arctic.

Western students Heidi Rodenhizer (Biology, Seattle) and Katie Heard (Environmental Science, Pine Grove, Calif.) will join Bunn in July for the month-long research trip.

Also on the trip is Logan Berner, a 2010 graduate of WWU now studying for his doctorate at Oregon State University.

“It’s an incredible, once in a lifetime, lottery opportunity for science students to get to do this,” Bunn said.

The project has begun; follow along with the project's blog at http://www.thepolarisproject.org/blog/.

Students will assist in collecting baseline data for the project, while also being able to conduct research on their own areas of interest. Bunn said this is unique to research trips, where students normally assist a professor or graduate student and can lack the freedom to do their own projects.

Rodenhizer’s project will include collecting data about the above-ground carbon stores in the Kolyma watershed of Siberia. Carbon is stored in the plants in the area, but the current amount of carbon there is not well known. Her work will help to figure out the amount currently in the Kolyma watershed.

Heard’s project will focus on carbon stocks (the amount of carbon in the ecosystem) in a small area of the Kolyma watershed. She will also look at the relationship between the carbon stocks and variables in biological processes.

For more information about The Polaris Project visit http://www.thepolarisproject.org or contact Andy Bunn at (360) 650-4252 or andy.bunn@wwu.edu. 


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