8 July 2018 Prep Time Part Two

Researcher prep

Each team member has plenty of preparation to do on their end, and with an international team hailing from Alaska, Japan, Russia, and France, it will be interesting to learn each researcher's priorities.

Alexis Will is my partner in this process, as well as the Principal Researcher. She works as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow between the National Institute of Polar Research in Japan and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Although she admits she can be a "last-minute person", she seems pretty busy.

Researcher Tasks

Some of her prep tasks include the following:

  1. Ensure research is approved by the University's Animal Care and Use Committee.

  2. Ensure that any new team member (such as myself!) completes required online classes for animal handling regulations.

  3. Field food! Since we will be in a remote island village, feeding a team of folks for several weeks can be a challenge.

    a. Draw up a list for feedback/requests from the team.

    b. Decide where to purchase items.

    c. Plan timing of food delivery to the island.

    d. Some food is stored on the island from last year, so we won't starve, but mail can be pretty unpredictable. (Apparently it took one box five weeks to get to the island last year!)

    e. All of the food planning requires some research on shipping methods and shopping options which can be pretty stressful. If your team isn't fed and happy, well, you can guess how that would go!

  4. Once those logistics are in place, she gets busy making and printing maps, packing gear, purchasing supplies in town, printing out field note books... lots of what she calls "small things", but they're all new to me, so I say they're pretty big things.

  5. PLUS, with me joining the team, she's answering my questions, helping me with a packing list, and sending out research articles! Thanks, Alexis!

The more preparation done in advance, the better. It's expensive to conduct research, especially in a remote location, so the goal is to hit the ground running!

Packing list?

We'll be, in essence, "Glamping in Savoonga", so rain gear, layers, and more layers rule the day. Plenty of different types of gloves, since it will be cold, wet, and windy while we're capturing and handling birds. Did I mention layers?

Checking the weather and climate norms is important, and even though temps will be in the 30's and 40's, rain is frequent, and the wind chill can drop temps down into the 20's. Today, for example, I see the winds are a whopping 29 mph, with an actual temperature that feels 12º lower than the thermometer temperature. Brrrr!


For those who've asked me about shopping (because that's travel planning, too), what I know is that there's a single store in Savoonga and cash is best since the card machine at the store doesn't always work. (Also, prices can be triple that of the mainland, and the range of items can be slim, so plan ahead!) As far as souvenirs or touristy type purchases, local artists, industrious in nature, sell their wares, too, and since Savoonga is the Walrus Capital of the World, it's home to some of the best ivory carvers in the world.

On the homefront

There's also family prep at home. We are all trying to bank some time with our loved ones, and one of the things I've done to try and remind my 12 year old that I'll be home soon is create a calendar with appointments, lessons, camp, and notes. Some of his favorite candy is included, along with some surprise cards and small goodies. The trickiest challenge is leaving family, but at the same time, I imagine it's extra impetus to maximize every minute away.

Tri-fold prep boardTri-fold board with calendar of events and reminders, plus goodies, notes, and surprises.

You can see that when doing research, it's important that you don't, ahem, "wing it."

What other questions do you have?


Your son is so lucky! What a

Your son is so lucky! What a wonderful calendar you have created for him. I'm looking forward to following your journals when you are in the field. Happy Packing!

Re: Judy Fahnestock commented on 8 July 2018 Prep Time Part Two

Thanks, Judy!

On 7/10/18 10:05 AM, PolarTREC wrote:

Re: Judy Fahnestock commented on 8 July 2018 Prep Time Part Two

Thanks, Judy!

On 7/10/18 10:05 AM, PolarTREC wrote:

Love the art work!

You are so wonderfully talented! I can't wait to see what the similarities and differences between the culture in Utqiagvik and Savoonga!

Re: Melissa Lau commented on 8 July 2018 Prep Time Part Two

Melissa, thank you. And yes, I'm looking forward to learning so much
more! How are you doing back in "the lower 48"?

On 7/14/18 10:57 AM, PolarTREC wrote:

Team Member

Wendi Pillars's picture

Journal Details

Latitude: 35° 47' 18.327" N
Longitude: 83° 33' 15.598" W
Weather Summary: Still hot. 99º F. This is not helping me acclimate to cooler weather.
Temperature: 99º
Wind Chill: Haha. No such luck.
Wind Speed: 0mph

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