Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SNRAS holds first Research Day

For 15 years, all natural resources management undergraduate students were required to take senior thesis classes and write research papers. This semester, for the first time, the format was switched so that students prepared posters instead of papers.

Part of the reason for the change is based on the Undergraduate Research  and Scholarly Activity calendar. URSA offers grants for undergraduate research and hosts a research showcase in April.

Jacob Hakala presents his poster.
At the first SNRAS Research Day on Nov. 22 in the Margaret Murie building, the students presented their posters. To get things rolling, doctoral student Watcharee Ruairuen volunteered to give a talk on her "Evapotranspiration from Sub-Arctic Agricultural Ecosystem" poster. Professor Milan Shipka followed with his poster on reindeer gestation.

 Jacob Hakala talked about his poster, "Growth of Siberian Larch in Interior Alaska."


Siberian Larch (Larix sibirica) has historical use from Eastern Russia through to Finland. I am investigating the early performance of the species in Interior Alaska. I will investigate if Siberian Larch is a regeneration option compared to current commercial species, specifically White Spruce (Picea glauce) and Lodgepole Pine(Pinus contorta).
Forty-seven randomized fixed-area plots were established within three timber sales in the Tanana Valley State Forest to collect size data for comparison between species and the respective sale areas in which they were planted.
I found that Siberian Larch exhibited better early-life growth than the other species, but did not encounter nearly the abundance that the more established species displayed. Siberian Larch did not however exhibit significant difference between the sites, while Lodgepole Pine did. This suggests that while the Siberian Larch measured does not exhibit significant dependency on site selection, there could be improvements in the survivorship of the seedlings.
The higher average volume values for Siberian Larch 20 to 30 years of age are consistent with existing literature, but further monitoring on the plots is required to understand later-stage dynamics of the species.

Melissa Dick's poster was "Rapid Soil Carbon Assessment Using VNIR Spectroscopy." She presented at the Matanuska Experiment Farm in Palmer.


There is demand for large amounts of good quality, inexpensive soil data to be used for various soil assessments.  Spectroscopy can offer rapid, timely, inexpensive, non-destructive alternative to lab analysis. The main objective of this study was to develop a reliable, VNIR (visible-near infrared) method to test for carbon in crops and forest soils in southcentral Alaska.  Soil samples were collected from four crop, and four forest sites in the Mat-Su Valley, and scanned with a portable spectrometer.  There was a significant relationship found between quantitative spectral responses, and the lab test results.  The results show that VNIR spectroscopy can be used to predict soil carbon content, and to improve calibrations for future soil assessments in the field.

AnneMarie White's poster was "Lumber Grading in Alaska: Why Not?" She presented via distance technology from Craig on Prince of Wales Island.


According to the International Building Code (IBC) “Sawn lumber used for load-supporting purposes …shall be identified by the grade mark of a lumber grading or inspection agency that has been approved by an accreditation body that complies with DOC PS 20 or equivalent.” Currently, there is only one sawmill in Alaska actively grading lumber for local sale. What are the obstacles that stand in the way of making this practice more prevalent throughout Alaska? A telephone survey of Alaska sawmill owners was utilized to answer the primary question. Telephone and personal interviews with the Director of Quality Services at the West Coast Lumber Inspection Bureau (WCLIB) and the head grader at the only sawmill in Alaska currently grading lumber, were also conducted. The results pointed to an inadequate local market due to an excessive supply of imported lumber, and an inadequate volume of timber for sale by the major landowners in Alaska Education campaigns on a local level could be used to persuade local residents to utilize local graded lumber rather than imported. Sawmill owners could also campaign in favor of changing government policy in reference to allowable timber harvest on Federal and State Forest Lands. 

Other SNRAS faculty and staff exhibited posters, including Research Professional George Aguiar, Professor Meriam Karlsson and Professor Mingchu Zhang. Interim Dean and Director Stephen Sparrow said, "Our first Research Day went very well. We had a good turnout of faculty, students and staff. I'm very pleased that two of the students were able to present their posters via distance delivery. I like this new format; we plan to continue in this manner in the future."
Students, faculty and staff peruse the posters at Research Day.
Jacob Hakala explains his poster to Professor Glenn Juday.

1 comment:

Barbara Taylor said...

SNRAS, congratulations from URSA on a successful Research Day. If there is any way we can further support your research efforts, please contact us at www.uaf.edu/ursa or our office - rm 301 in the Bunnell Building.