Meet the Students (2013)

Welcome! Here you can find information about each of the 2013 NERU Fellows:

Haley Dunleavy

Haley1 Hej! My name is Haley Dunleavy. Born and raised in the city of Chicago, I currently study at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage, majoring in Environmental Science with a concentration in Biological Science and minoring in Mathematics. I am extremely interested in plant-soil interactions in Arctic and sub-Arctic ecosystems, particularly with regards to shrub expansion. Luckily, my project with NERU is right up that alley! With Serita Frey as my mentor, we will be characterizing ectomycorrhizal fungal community compositional and functional differences along a heath-shrub-forest ecotone to attempt to understand how these communities and their roles will change as a warming and shifting climate causes shrubs and trees to encroach into the tundra. To do so, we will collect ectomycorrhizal root tips, run enzyme assays, and extract and sequence the fungal DNA. We will also carry out some soil analyses such as macro- and micro-nutrient concentration and soil respiration, which I am stoked to learn how to do!

Something interesting (or not) about me is that as a young girl on our family summer road trips to Colorado my mother would make me sing along to John Denver. So, if you ever get lost on a country road, fret not–I can take you home…to the place you belong…

Lance Erickson

Lance1

Hey there! My name is Lance Erickson, a native of Pelican Rapids, MN. I am currently a senior geology major at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. Most of my hobbies partake in the outdoors, thus leading me to this great opportunity in Sweden! My research topic for this REU consists of studying mercury (Hg) in lake sediments over a methane gradient. Ultimately, I want to know the relationship between mercury and methane ebullition and whether or not methane ebullition is mobilizing mercury in the Stordalen Mire, Abisko, Sweden. Abisko serves as a great study site as it is situated in the discontinuous permafrost zone of the sub-arctic. Thus, Abisko’s location is significantly susceptible to changing climate.

By studying the mercury in lake sediments over a methane gradient, I also want to try and determine how much mercury is available to be mobilized in this specific lake environment. To do this research, I will sub-sample sediment cores taken by the “lake sediment crew”. I will sub-sample the cores at equal increments going down the depth of the core. Then back at UNH, I will analyze the mercury content using an ICP-MS instrument. This research is important as mercury is a toxic substance and with a warming environment, more mercury is potentially available for bacterial breakdown and movement throughout ecosystems. My experience so far in the NERU program has been great and I hope to add to it as we stay in Abisko, Sweden! A fun fact about me is that I have played 3 years of college football.

Ashley Lang

AshleyHi! I’m Ashley Lang and I am from Peachtree City, Georgia. I am an Ecology major at the University of Georgia with a minor in Spanish. I am interested in the effects of climate change on ecosystem-level processes. At UGA, I have been involved in research about the biogeochemistry of forests in the southeastern U.S., so I am very excited to get the chance to study carbon emissions in a completely new environment!

My project in Abisko concerns the ebullitive flux of methane from thaw ponds in Stordalen mire. In the next few weeks, I will be collecting methane bubbles as they are released from these ponds and calculating the flux of methane from ebullition (bubbling). This topic is interesting to me because our warming climate is leading to permafrost degradation and thaw pond formation across the Arctic, yet little is known about the magnitude of their potential contribution to the global methane budget. I will also be installing ebullition traps in the mire peat along a transect with known methane emissions, so we will be able to determine how much of the methane being released in this area is due to ebullition versus other emission pathways.

Before this trip I had never left the U.S., and so far I am loving the cool temperatures and beautiful mountain views in Abisko! An interesting fact about me is that I am an avid fan of the Harry Potter series and I re-read the books every year.

 

Maddie Halloran

Maddie

Hi! My name is Maddie Halloran. I am from Anchorage, Alaska and I go to school at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where I am majoring in Environmental Studies, with a concentration in Biochemistry. For my research project, I will be working with the lake sediment crew (Joel and Lance) to core into three lakes in the Stordalen mire and characterize their environmental history. These lakes are known to release methane into the air at varying rates, and we hope that learning more about them will give insight into the process by which methane is released. This is an important study, because as the earth warms, sub-arctic lakes are expected to release more methane, which is a strong greenhouse gas.

My picture here is with our coring instrument in its case, which weighs over 70 pounds (about 32 kilos) all together! This is the first time that I have been to Europe, so I’m really excited to learn as much as possible about both the environment and the culture in Sweden. A fun fact about me is that I have read the Harry Potter series slightly fewer times than Ashley (which is still a lot).

Michael Layne

Michael

Hey!

This is Michael Layne and I am from San Diego, CA. Currently, I am an Environmental Science major at California State University, Monterey Bay. CSUMB is a small school on the beautiful Monterey Bay and is an excellent spot for outdoor recreation. At school I work on the Greenhouse Gas Project, which is studying different agricultural methods and their subsequent release of greenhouse gases. An interesting fact about me, I will turn 22 here in Sweden which is something I will never forget.

While in Sweden I am studying Mercury concentrations in the different plant communities across the Mire. My project is just a small snapshot of overall mercury cycling at Stordalen but it will give an idea as to where mercury is being stored. Once we get back to New Hampshire, I will run my plant samples on the Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer which is a big fancy machine which will determine the concentration of mercury in each plant.

Cheers!

Matt Osman

Matt

Matt Osman is a 21 year old from the rural farmlands of southern Illinois.  He is inconspicuously writing this bio in third person.  He is currently a geology major at Augustana College, IL.  Matt enjoys science, adventures, and pretty scenery.  He attempts to fill his life with these things, often simultaneously.  His favorite song is Africa by Toto.  He dabbles in dancing, but only to that song.  If he was a dinosaur, he’d probably be a dilophosaurus.  Matt climbs rocks with incessant enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, Illinois has more corn than rocks.  Fortunately, Matt appreciates corn, too.  His other favorite things include thunderstorms, glaciers, and cheese.  

In Sweden this summer, Matt will be monitoring ebullitive (i.e. bubbling) methane fluxes in lakes using an acoustic hydrophone detection system.  This is an exciting, novel method, which will ultimately allow him to listen for bubble fluxes on very long mp3 files.  He has most recently been concerned with recalibrating this system to more precisely relate recorded frequency resonances to bubble volumes.  In addition to measuring daily flux coefficients, the acoustic approach will provide an incredibly high temporal resolution which will be important in discerning exactly when and why these fluxes are occurring.

Samantha Werner

Sam W

Hellooo!

My name is Samantha Lynn Werner, but you can call me Sam. I hail from Derry, NH and am currently a senior at the University of New Hampshire;  majoring in Environmental Science with a concentration in Ecosystems.  I have a passion for fun and the outdoors, making Sweden the perfect place for me to study.

For my research in Abisko, Sweden, I will look at methane fluxes along the thaw gradient in Strodalen Mire. I will also be researching how the isotopic signatures of methane along the different thaw gradient, signified by the altering vegetation. These two unique aspects of methane will present connections to driving factors of methane flux and insight on changing methane pathways. Understanding methane fluxes and isotopic signatures is interesting for the global methane budget, contributing to future predictions of where and at what rate methane will be released as this fragile ecosystem continues to warm.

One interesting fact about me is that this trip marks the longest I have been out of the state of New Hampshire, the start to my great adventures. ANNNND my birthday is on July 17th, and I will be turning 21!

Thanks for reading 😀

Samantha Anderson

SamA

Hi my name is Samantha Anderson, I’m a 21 year old senior at the University of New Hampshire where I am currently studying Environmental Science focusing on ecosystems. I’m originally from a small suburban town in Cumberland, Rhode Island where the closest thing to a mountain is an ant hill. I have been a lab tech since the beginning of my sophomore year and have worked on various projects with climate change as the main focus.
     My current project is fine-scaling species composition in discontinuous permafrost at the Stordalen Mire in Abisko, Sweden. With the technology we have today I can use ROVs (remotely operated vehicles, in my case a helicopter) to determine species composition at the sub meter level obtaining infrared images, hopefully mapping out the entire ecosystem.
    This is important due to the fact that this type of scaling has never been applied to a mire ecosystem before. Knowing species composition we can then look at carbon and methane fluxes which are the leading gases that are driving climate change. Percent cover will be measured with a 8X8 1 meter quadrat in 5 site types across a gradient from low wetland to high palsa.
FUN FACT:
-Helped deliver an alpaca and now I have an alpaca named after me (Sam).

Elizabeth Golden

Eliz

Hee-eej!  I am from Rawlins Wyoming and I study Geography (major) and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (minor) at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  During my time at UCB, I have worked and conducted undergraduate research in the Aridlands Ecology Laboratory (UCB).  In the future, I would like to study soil microbial processes and ecological functions in harsh environments (deserts, alpine and polar regions).

My research in Sweden will focus on ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) and the effect of a natural defoliation event on ECM community structure and ecological function in a mountain birch- (Betula pubescens) dominated, sub-Arctic ecosystem.  ECM colonize the roots of most woody plants, forming a mutualistic association in which ECM transfer nutrients and moisture from soil to the plant in exchange for photosynthate carbon.  It has been proposed that if this flow of carbon from plant to ECM is diminished or halted, the ECM may demonstrate saprotrophic behavior and act to decompose roots.  Additionally, ECM, previously thought to be a passive interface between plant roots and soil, may actively ‘mine’ nutrients from soil through the production of organic acids and enzymes.  Ultimately, ECM may play a significantly greater role in nutrient and biogeochemical cycles than previously assumed.

In order to address these questions and provide insight into the ecological roles of ECM, I will sample colonized root tips from mountain birch trees on a gradient of defoliation, ranging from healthy to completely defoliated.  Through the use of enzyme assays and DNA extraction and sequencing, I will be able to describe and match enzymatic activity to individual ECM species in the context of defoliation of host species and associated carbon limitation.  I will also characterize the soil (OM content, macro/micro nutrients/pH, profile, etc.) and vegetation of the sampling sites.

Fun fact: I once roasted a marshmallow over a river of molten lava that was oozing out of an active volcano in Guatemala.  I didn’t lose an eyebrow, but my boots may have gotten a little melty…

Joel DeStasio

Joel

Joel DeStasio is a resident of the New Hampshire seacoast and an undergraduate student at the University of New Hampshire.  He is majoring in Environmental Science, with a focus on ecosystems and additionally he is minoring in Music.  Prior to becoming a student at UNH, he served four years in the United States Air Force.

Currently, Joel is working in Abisko, Sweden, studying methane and carbon dioxide dynamics in peatland lake sediments, within the sub-arctic region of Sweden.  In recent years, research concerning the thawing of permafrost and its contribution to atmospheric methane has been conducted at the Abisko Research Station.  These studies have monitored the bubbling of methane gas, known as ebullition, from peatlands that until recent years remained frozen.  Similar to the well known greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, methane also has the ability to warm the atmosphere, by absorbing thermal radiation as it leaves the Earth’s surface.  With his research, Joel aims to expand on existing research concerning the release of methane gas from the sediments of freshwater lakes within the northern peatlands of Sweden.

After completing his summer research project in Sweden, he hopes to develop a better understanding of the effects of thawing permafrost in global sub-arctic regions and its relationship to the complex issue of climate change.

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