Now Archived! PolarConnect event with DJ Kast and research team from Toolik Field Station on Thursday, 7 July 2016. You can access this and other events by visiting the PolarConnect Archives. https://www.polartrec.com/polar-connect/archive
Microbial diversity has recently been found to show a pattern of organization at various scales. The research team attempts to answer three basic questions about microbial diversity and dispersal, focused on the long-term aspects of dispersal events and climate change: 1) How does environment influence microbial community composition and rate of function? For example, how quickly they convert organic material to carbon dioxide. 2) How are distribution patterns of microbial communities in lakes, streams, and soils influenced by the dispersal from local water flow? 3) How are the shifts in microbial community composition related to shifts in environmental conditions over time such as those caused by climate change?
The research team was based out of Toolik Field Station, located on the Dalton Highway in the northern foothills of the Brooks Mountain range. The station is an 8-10 hour drive north from Fairbanks, Alaska. Toolik Field Station is operated by the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has hosted hundreds of researchers and students every year since 1975. From the field station, the team traveled to their sites by foot, truck, and helicopter.
DJ Kast is the STEM Programs Manager for the USC Joint Educational Project, which encompasses the USC Young Scientists Program (YSP) and the USC Wonderkids program. She is also the STEM coordinator for the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI). She inspires 2400 K-12 students a year to appreciate science through hands-on, inquiry based science activities and experiments. She received all three of her degrees from the University of Southern California (USC) and that includes: Bachelors in Biology and a minor in Nonprofits, Philanthropy, and Volunteerism, a Masters in Marine Environmental Biology, and a Masters in Arts and Teaching with a Single Subject science teaching credential. She loves science fashion and wears many science dresses, t-shirts, and jewelry that represent the science she is teaching. Additionally, she is a NOAA Climate Steward, National Marine Educator Association (NMEA) member, and in 2014 she was a NOAA Teacher at Sea participant that collected water and plankton samples all along the eastern seaboard. Her hobbies include traveling the world with her husband Roee Fung, photography, and SCUBA diving and in her spare time she is a volunteer for USC Seagrant and the USC Catalina Hyperbaric Chamber at the USC Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies.
Dr. Byron Crump has worked in the Arctic for over a decade exploring the biodiversity and ecology of bacteria and other microbes in lakes, streams and soils. Microbial communities are essential components of every ecosystem on the planet, and in recent years we have learned that the most abundant organisms in natural microbial communities are unrelated to the cultured organisms studied in the lab for the last 100 years. Microbial communities contain an extremely deep diversity and an immense genomic potential of novel functional genes. Dr. Crump is currently conducting a multi-year study of microbial community composition and growth rate in arctic lakes and streams on the North Slope of Alaska to measure how diversity and growth vary over time and are affected by global change. You can read more about Dr. Crump's research here.
George W. Kling is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan. He primarily studies aquatic ecology and biogeochemistry, and his research has focused on carbon and nutrient cycling, on using stable isotopes to understand trophic interactions, and on the integration of lakes and streams in a landscape context. His recent research has examined the role of microbial diversity in ecosystem function. He has worked internationally on arctic lakes and streams for approximately 25 years, and on tropical lakes in Africa.
Kling's scientific outreach to the public through interviews about his research on climate change and on the killer lakes of Cameroon includes articles in magazines and newspapers (e.g., National Geographic, Smithsonian), T.V. and radio broadcasts (e.g., CNN, BBC), and television films (e.g., BBC, Discovery). He has met regularly with U.S. Congress members to discuss issues of climate change and scientific integrity, and was lead author of the Union of Concerned Scientists – Ecological Society of America publication 'Confronting Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region' (2003). Kling is an associate editor for Limnology and Oceanography (2001-), an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1997-), and received a National Academy of Science Young Investigator Award (1993), a NSF Presidential Faculty Fellowship (1995), the United Nations Sasakawa Award (Certificate for Disaster Reduction, 2001), and the ASLO Ruth Patrick Award (2007).