PolarTREC Acceptance

    They say persistence pays off!

    For the past several years, I've been obsessed with the Polar regions - starting with my trip to the Arctic Svalbard, my time in Iceland, and particularly after spending last summer in the National Parks of Alaska. I've applied multiple times to the PolarTREC program in the hopes of joining an Arctic or Antarctic researcher to learn more about these areas of the planet. Finally, this year I got the call! I was overjoyed when I was accepted to be a member of Dr. Martin Nweeia's research project, "Education, Knowledge, and the Narwhal."


    I'm especially excited because Dr. Nweeia has such an interesting idea. Rather than being heavily science based, this project blends science with culture - particularly Indigenous knowledge. Narwhals are a mysterious animal that few people know much about. But the narwhal is an important food source for the Inuit population, who have lived and hunted in the northern Arctic for thousands of years. Who better would know about these elusive creatures than the people who live in harmony with them?

    A large part of the project is creating outreach for students, and I'm excited not only to learn more about the narwhal, but about how we can incorporate Inuit stories and knowledge into curriculum.

    (I'd add a photo of a narwhal here, but they're so elusive, no PolarTRECer has captured one on film! We'll have to remedy that...!) Instead, enjoy this very scientifically accurate depiction:

    Sketch of Narwhal
    The Narwhal (not in natural habitat)

    This is not a narwhal, nor is it in the same country I'm going to, but it IS an arctic animal that potentially will be in northern Canada!

    Red fox on boardwalk
    A red fox on a boardwalk at Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo credit: Kate Steeper (PolarTREC 2019), Courtesy of ARCUS

    Orientation, 2020

    I'm so excited to be joining this marvelous 2020 cohort of PolarTRECers - despite all the chaos going on in the world, I already feel connect to these peeps. Sadly, in-person orientation that was supposed to be happening this week in Boulder Colorado was canceled because of the CoVID-19 crisis, so we're meeting virtually from all over the country (and world! - poor Eric is stuck in New Zealand!)

    Even though we don't get to hang out in person, everyone has been wonderfully flexible, understanding, and helpful. Looking forward to working further with everyone!!

    Screenshot of Zoom orientation meeting
    The 2020 PolarTREC cohort, alumni, and staff at their virtual orientation


    Amy Osborne

    Hi Kathy! I love your narwhal drawing. I hope you do end up with a photo of a narwhal. I'm also very excited to follow your expedition! I'm especially intrigued by the blend of science and culture, especially with regards to indigenous knowledge. It is something I'm passionate about and I look forward to hearing more about it from your expedition!

    Tammy Orilio

    Kathy, your expedition sounds like a great combination of science & culture- I am so looking forward to following along! And, if you haven't heard the narwhal song, I had to include the link for you. I play it whenever I teach about narwhals- my students hate it after the 5th or 6th time ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykwqXuMPsoc

    Erin Towns

    Persistence does pay off! So glad you reapplied. Your project sounds amazing and I am really looking forward to following your expedition Kathy.

    Cassie Kautzer

    Kathy - I love that you started with a message about persistence and perseverance! If our students learned nothing else from our expeditions - we're sharing tangible examples of the goals that can be reached when we never give up! :)