Update

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

What Are They Doing?

Samples are gathered to test the microbial community composition at Toolik Lake, Alaska. Photo by Lauren Watel.
Samples are gathered to test the microbial community composition at Toolik Lake, Alaska. Photo by Lauren Watel.
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?

Where Are They?

Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo by Lauren Watel.
Toolik Field Station, Alaska. Photo by Lauren Watel.
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.

Latest Journals

Polar Outreach selfie. Photo by DJ Kast Students were worried about the snow melting, but one student looked at the tube of white stuff, and, with a smile on her face, said, "I'll keep it in the freezer forever." On November 17th and 18th, 1100 students at five Los Angeles schools learned about…
Returning Home I am home now and have had time to reflect and process my Arctic expedition. It has been an amazing adventure in the Arctic. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of such a fantastic science field experience and worked with amazing researchers from all over the country and the…
USC Summer Science Camp videoconference from the Arctic Starting my PolarTREC presentation with the USC Summer Science Camp. Photo by Linda Chilton Today I video-conferenced about the Arctic research occurring at Toolik Field Station to high school students in the USC Summer Science Camp on…
Arctic Tundra Flora Tundra snow flower! Photo by DJ Kast The Arctic tundra has a unique set of wildflowers and plants during the summer months. Arctic Tundra Adaptations Mountain heliotrope valerianaceae. Photo by DJ Kast The Arctic Tundra is a very unique place for both animals and plants…
Dates
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Location
Toolik Field Station, AK
Project Funded Title
NSF-LTREB – Long Term Research in Environmental Biology: What controls long-term changes in freshwater microbial community composition?
DJ Kast - STEM Programs Manager
STEM Programs Manager
University of Southern California

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.

George Kling - Researcher
Researcher
University of Michigan

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).

Byron Crump - Researcher
Researcher
Oregon State University

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.

Microbial Changes in Arctic Freshwater 2016 Resources

Overview: Bacteria Modeling

Objectives

Students will understand what bacteria look like with a model they create. They will also learn vocabulary associated with bacteria.

Lesson
Arctic
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Microbial Changes in Arctic Freshwater 2016

I love polar science and I knew that I wanted to travel to a polar region and work on translating some of the current polar science into teachable lesson plans so I can share my passion with the masses, especially my STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) students in the three programs that I manage.

Report
Arctic
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Overview

Game incorporating polar bear eating habits.

Objectives

Students learn about polar bears.

Lesson Preparation

Have access to either a basketball court or an outdoor area that students can run in.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Students read about polar regions and create models of shelter adaptations for the cold frigid climate.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Elementary and Up
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Overview

Students will be able to understand one of the adaptations of living in cold environments.

Objectives

Describe what blubber is and how it works.

Lesson
Arctic
About 1 period
Elementary and Up
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