Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mushrooms to muskox: grad students plan research efforts

Graduate students in Natural Resources Management 692 completed their research presentations Dec. 11, focusing on a wide range of subjects, from ethobotany to rural Alaska tourism to muskox handling.

Shannon Busby's work is titled, "Ethnobotanical Knowledge transmission: Categories of knowledge across generations."

From left, Christin Anderson, KattiJo Deeter, Jordan Richardson, Nina Olivier, Julie Cislo, Shannon Busby.
The Master's International student said ethnobotany has gone through a few phases. "First it was focused on indigenous people, now it's been redefined and applies to everyone," she said.

Her research will focus on oral traditions and storytelling. "Over the past century there has been some erosion of traditional methods," she said. Plants and health are intertwined and plants can help people reconnect with nature, Busby explained.

She would like to compare Fairbanks knowledge to rural areas and look at the role of family. "My methods will be based on relationships," she said. "I have learned in this class the importance of relationships."

The direction of her research will depend on her upcoming Peace Corps assignment.

KattiJo Deeter is researching tourism in Igiugig, Alaska, a village of 80 people near the headwaters of Bristol Bay. She described the community as a young settlement with a strong, active local government and a vibrant but small school.

Deeter visited Igiugig in October and was amazed that the water is so pure people drink it right from the lake. "The community has identified its own interests and needs," she said. She is working with Community Partnerships for Self-Reliance and Sustainability to try and develop tourism to increase self-reliance, bring in money and keep young people busy. "I want to create Igiugig lovers," she said.

She is focusing on "voluntourism," and plans to recruit volunteers, conduct a survey, do an orientation, have the volunteers help out in the summer and then do a followup survey.

Christin Anderson is determining if oyster mushrooms degrade diesel in soil. Using jars of soil from a contaminated site in Kaltag, Anderson is trying four different treatments at different temperatures. "It's working in the jars but it's taking a few months to degrade," she said. For more about her work, visit here.

Jordan Richardson is studying muskox behavior as it relates to handling proficiency. "I wanted to promote muskox farming in the north and develop best handling practices," she said. "The goals are to keep the animals stress free and keep us safe."

She has been gaining insight on the animals' social structure as it relates to production. "It's an applied observation approach," she said. She will link food to auditory signals and has been studying the work of Colorado State University Veterinarian Temple Grandin. "It's trial and error," Richardson said.

Nina Olivier is focused on assessing the socio-economic impacts of marine-protected areas in the Philippines. A Master's International student, Olivier will serve in the Peace Corps in the Philippines, where she plans to have open-ended conversations with community members and conduct a survey.

She praised the graduate seminar, saying, "I could pick and pull themes and topics."

Julie Cislo, this year's Peace Corps fellow, is researching invasive plants in Fairbanks. She worked an internship with the Soil and Water Conservation District. "There is a disconnect between information on identifying the plants," she said.

"I hope to find the depth of knowledge in identifying invasive plants and learn how the knowledge was gained." Using photos of invasive plants and native plants, she will ask people to choose whether the plants are native or invasive. "The results can aid in the presentation of further information about invasive species," she said.

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