23 September, 2002
Today is my last post from Alaska. By this time tomorrow I will be headed home. This departure raises mixed feelings for me. There is so much more I would like to do, yet I feel like it is time to go home. I am not looking forward to the long flight but I am very much looking forward to being with my family again. At least for me, three weeks is a long time to be away from my family.
In a lot of ways, today was a summary and review day. We all met on several occasions to review what we had accomplished over the past three weeks and where we would like to go from here. For me, the field work for this project is over. For the rest of the team the research will go on, as it always does. Each of the team members will carry on with the research in an effort to learn something new about the world around us. One very interesting part of our brainstorming was the discussion of a possibility to bring students to the Arctic for a research experience similar to my own. After discussing pros and cons of such an idea, we concluded that there really is no reason why students themselves could not act as ambassadors for Arctic research. We believe that the facility at Toolik Lake would be an ideal site to begin such a program and that the details of program design and implementation would be workable. While not an option for the immediate future, the idea will certainly give me something to work on for at least the next several months. From a somewhat more selfish viewpoint, the development of a student component will give me a reason to remain in close touch with these people who have become my friends.
The rest of my day today was spend learning some of the other types of research on-going here at the University of Alaska. I was able to tour the Geophysical building to hear about research in atmospheric sciences, glaciology, and the physical study of our planet. From the viewpoint of personal interest, I was able to tour the large animal research facility here in Fairbanks. In the rest of the country, large animal research tends to mean research on cattle, hogs, sheep, horses, etc. Here at UAF (University of Alaska-Fairbanks), large animal research means research on reindeer, caribou and musk ox. With an Animal Science background, it was interesting for me to see how agricultural research ideas can be applied to a more wild population of animals.
It seems that even as I am preparing to leave, I continue to learn more and more. What a wonderful experience this has been.
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