Friday, November 11, 2016

Jan Dawe and Mark Melham receive URSA Awards

Assistant professor Jan Dawe and SNRE graduate student Mark Melham will receive $7,500 URSA Mentoring Awards for the 2017 academic year.

Both were notified late last week. The mentoring awards are given to UAF faculty members, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students to provide undergraduate research learning opportunities.

Nicole Dunham pours birch sap during the collection
season this spring. Some students hired with URSA funds
 will work on birch processing methods.
UAF photo by Todd Paris 
Dawe, a research assistant professor, will recruit three to five students who will work on a variety of projects. This include comparing birch sap processing methods and looking at product quality, taste testing and the efficiencies of different evaporators. The students will also work on citizen science protocols for tracking phenology, growth and productivity in the T-field birch plot on North Campus and development of the STEAM Studio as an informal science center. The T-Field is part of the Fairbanks Experiment Farm.

Melham’s grant will support his project, “Dall Sheep Research in Gates of the Arctic.” Melham, who is working on a master’s degree in natural resources management, said the primary purpose of his research with Professor Dave Verbyla is to validate Landsat and NGA high-resolution satellite imagery in order to understand where shrubs are and how they’re expanding throughout the entire Dall sheep range. The Gates of the Arctic study is designed to ensure that remotely sensed data corresponds correctly to the physical location and percentage of tall shrub coverage.

One goal of the project is to obtain high-resolution field data on vegetative growth and quality in critical Dall sheep habitat along the John River. The URSA funds will support two undergraduates who will spend their summer floating the John River on repeated transects, visiting randomized points to perform vegetation composition surveys and collecting Dall sheep fecal samples. To prepare for the field season, the students will work with Melham during the spring and (hopefully) present the initial findings from the remote sensing portion of the project at the URSA Research Day.

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