News

Students participate in research in Alaska with their professor

Meredith Kenney '12, of Rensselaerville, NY, and Emma Kearney
'12, of Rush, NY, participated in environmental research in Alaska this
summer, with Associate Professor of Environmental
Studies Jon Rosales. With funding assistance from the Andrew
W. Mellon Foundation grant for the Environmental Education Initiative
for Active Learning, Research and Advocacy
, the trio went to two
native villages experiencing environmental challenges caused by climate
change.

The three interviewed elders, hunters, whaling captains and
subsistence-gatherers about the changes they have witnessed. Rosales
states that the recorded interviews will appear on a Web site next
summer, pending the consent of the villages.

The research team visited Shaktoolik, a Malemiut village on the southern
part of the Bering Strait that sits only a few feet above sea level,
making it vulnerable to sea level rise, storm activity and storm surges.
They also conducted research in Savoonga, a Yupi'k community on St.
Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea, not far from Siberia, where melting
sea ice has diminished whale, walrus and seal populations.

Kenney, an environmental studies major, plans to return to Shaktoolik
next summer to continue gathering footage for a documentary film.
Kearney, a mathematics and environmental studies major, will be
analyzing driftwood core samples to determine their origin, as a senior
project. Rosales, who has been conducting research on
St. Lawrence Island
for a number of years, plans to return for the
next three summers, documenting what residents are experiencing and how
they are adapting. In addition to the planned Web site, he also plans a
book.