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2 April, 2003

Arrive at East Carolina University

Today at ECU

It is a beautiful spring day here at East Carolina University (ECU) in Greenville, NC. where my team is assembling.

What science is happening: Today I got to meet the team, Dr. Lisa Clough, Dr. Jeff Johnson, Dr. David Griffith, Terry Renoylds, Melinda Renoylds, Kate Metzler, Alex Whiting (also wife, Martha, and daughter, Denali). Dr. Stephen Jewette and Dr. Will Ambrose were not able come; we will meet with them by tele- conference later. The team will meet together and made plans for this year’s science.


A good beginning starts by looking at what we have. Lisa presented data from the last year’s sampling. (This is the 2nd year of the 3 year project). As a team we did a little brainstorming. We tried to think of anything else that could cause differences in the data that we had seen. One place we take samples to check the impacts of sewage in the Kotzebue sound also is near the mouth of a river. Who can spot a potential problem in that?

* See the bottom of the page.

Lab Equipment:

Lisa gave me a tour of the lab. She showed me what we will be sampling and how these samples are tested. One important piece of equipment is the fluorometer; this machine will come with us to Kotzebue. The fluorometer takes a concentrated sample of seawater or filtered algae and shines a light into it. The light that comes out the other side is measured. This shows the amount of chlorophyll (produced in plants to make them green) in the sample. Other methods of testing samples include burning them in a furnace, which cooks samples at 600 degrees. What is left is weighed to determine how much biomass (animals and plants) has been burned away.


The traditional knowledge has had to be obtained with great finesse. Unfortunately, explores and scientists of times past have not always respected the Iòupiaq people and the Iòupiaq can be very reserved about sharing their valuable knowledge with the scientists. Terry stated that we are looking at the data received and trying to forge friendships and alliances with the Iòupiaq people between the ages of 20-40 to get a more complete set of data. Did you ever think that it would be science to sit and chat with or play cards with people? Social scientists, (anthropologists and sociologists) study groups of people.

Classroom Connections:

Do you think studying people is important? Why or why not? We are learning from the elders in Kotzebue, Alaska. Where could you learn about the history of your community or of your family? Words to know:

Benthic- Free swimming animals below the water level- fish, crabs, clams, star fish, etc.

Plankton: Small plants or animals that float with sea current. There are two types:

Phytoplankton- plant plankton

Zooplankton- animal plankton There are two types of zooplankton: Maroplankton- animals that will grow up to be free swimming such as some fish, clams, shrimp or crabs larva but float in the water column until as larva (babies).

Holoplankton- always floats with current, even as an adult. Reflections

One thing that struck me, when touring the labs is that there were several different tests that look for the same thing. Lisa tells me that scientists cross-check them selves by using different tests to make sure that data is accurate.

Answer to previous question:

* If you said “There is more than 1 variable”, you’re right! We can’t tell if the samples are different because of the sewage or because fresh water is getting emptied into the salt water.

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