Projects

Food Security Project
Professor Mark Carper, Geography/Environment & Society 907-786-6007 afmdc@uaa.alaska.edu
Goal: To create a public GIS document that demonstrates the availability of locally grown food to portions of Anchorage.
Surveys:
-Where the individual lives
-How food is attained: purchased, hunted/fished, or grown
-How much food is purchased outside of the home
-Where the food is purchased
-Types of food: Organic, Inorganic, CSA

A CCEL Minigrant of $6,000 funded the project in addition to several Community Engaged Student Assistants (CESAs) and paid student research assistants. Students who have collaborated on the project include Zoe Meade, Danielle Giles, Kent Spiers, Brittany Murphy, Kaustav Kakati, and Rebecca Barker, Aleks Pfaffe, and Kyla Byers.

In addition, for a community project, students in the "People Places, & Ecosystems" class are able to participate. The goal of the survey being distributed is to document the amount of food and other products imported into Anchorage and to which areas they are distributed and to document where locally grown food is being distributed.

What can be learned by this project:
-Food Security
-Are there items that are being imported into Anchorage that could be grown locally?
-Are communities that do not commute being charged higher prices?

Problems concerning this project:
-Difficult to receive quantity information concerning how much retail stores are purchasing
-Difficult to receive quantity information concerning the amount of food and other products being imported
-Small Farms are not likely to self-report if only feeding themselves and neighbors
Surveys were distributed and analyzed during summer and fall 2011.

 

Campus Garden
UAA Sustainability Club & UAA Heifer Club
Faculty Contacts: Sunny Mall, UAA College of Education, Sustainability Club Advisor afalm@uaa.alaska.edu Mark Carper markgoestoak@yahoo.com Shannon Donovan afsmd@uaa.alaska.edu
Student Contacts Aleks Pfaffe, Sustainability Club President, Garden Volunteer Coordinator, aleks.pfaffe@gmail.com, 394.6588 (cell) Jasmine Woodland, Sustainability Club Secretary, Garden Media Coordinator jaswoodland@gmail.com Melody Miller, Sustainability Club Member, Garden Caretaker melodymiller1133@yahoo.com Heather Kelahan, President of Heifer International Club, Garden Volunteer hkelahan@hotmail.com

Project summary
"Growing" out of the values and interests of the students of the Sustainability and Heifer International Clubs, the work began over the last year to develop a plan to build a community garden on the UAA campus. The project will be organized by the members of both clubs and will serve as a venue for all members of the UAA community to practice local food gardening and reap the many benefits a community garden offer. Starting as a pilot project, we intend that it be a small, raised-bed garden covering an area of roughly 500 square feet (20'x25'). Though the garden will be the responsibility of the club members, participation in gardening would be open to all members of the UAA community – students, faculty, and staff alike. In the first season of operation, the harvests will be shared with the volunteers and the broader UAA community through picnics and banquets organized by the clubs throughout the season. Any food surpluses will be donated to local soup kitchens such as Bean's Café. Furthermore, the club members intend to share the experience and educational benefits of this demonstration to as broad and audience as possible through educational signs in the garden as well as an internet blog. In the future, we hope to see this project expand and develop into an ongoing community gardening program that provides internship opportunities for students, locally produced food for the UAA community, and the opportunity for all members of the UAA community to participate in local, organic food gardening.

Support and partners
A. Office of Sustainability Financial support ($300)Guarantees to maintain or dismantle the garden if clubs fail to maintain it or dissolve before dismantling it.
B. Dept. of Geography & Environmental Studies Currently investigating internship or service-learning opportunities with garden through Center for Community Engagement and Learning. Guarantees to assist Office of Sustainability by soliciting interns or volunteers in the case that the clubs would fail to maintain or dismantle garden.
C. Green Earth Land Works Offered to donate $800 worth of plants and seeds as well as a microbial soil supplement (EM1) for the garden.

Summary of garden specifications
The garden is 20'x25' with 4 raised beds, 1' high (3 3'x12', 1 3'x8'). It has a fence, weed fabric, and wood chips to cover the grass instead of removing sod. The watering systems are a barrel and soaker hoses. There is also informational signage and an internet blog.

 

Black Bear Management in Alaska: The Role of Perceptions, Policies and Decision-Making
Dr. Shannon Donovan, Assistant Professor of Geography & Environmental Studies 907-786-6052 afsmd@uaa.alaska.edu

Introduction

In the state of Alaska, black bears (Ursus americanus) provide a host of ecosystem services that include serving as a food source, predator, hunted trophy species, wildlife viewing opportunity and tourist attraction. In its role as predator, black bears also affect more highly desired food sources, such as moose. Bear predation on young calves is thought to have significant effects on moose populations and some people in Alaska are concerned about increasing predation rates by bears on moose calves. In order to better understand public perceptions regarding black bear management as well as the policy context within which decisions are made, we propose to conduct a social assessment and policy review of black bear management.

To meet our research objectives we will:

  • Conduct archival research of relevant literature including peer-reviewed journals, technical reports, white papers and public presentations.
  • Review a sample of available transcripts from public meetings using content analysis to assess the diversity of perceptions expressed regarding black bear trapping in Alaska.
  • Conduct phone interviews with key stakeholders including with key informants residing in areas where trapping has been proposed, BOG and AFD&G officials and other interested parties. We will use snowball sampling to identify potential interview participants.
  • Perform an institutional analysis of black bear management, with a focus on identifying the key players, the role of the public in management decision-making, andconstructing a model of the policy process by which public and management preferences are incorporated into decision-making.
  • Analyze the role of the Governor's office in providing a guiding philosophy to decision-making, which then also structures the public sphere.

 

Chester Creek : Analysis of water quality in the Chester Creek watershed, Anchorage, Alaska
Dr. Khrystyne Duddleston, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences 907-786-7752 afkd1@uaa.alaska.edu

Persistence and distribution of fecal indicator bacteria in Chester Creek and University Lake. As an outgrowth of the UAA-WATER project (below) and in collaboration with William Schnabel (UAA Dept. Engineering), we are currently investigating the distribution and persistence of fecal coliforms with goal of creating a model of spatial, temporal and phase distributions of coliforms along Chester Creek and in University Lake. We are collecting microbiological, physical and chemical data from creek and lake water and sediments on a weekly basis across seasons. We are conducting laboratory experiments examining the ability of creek sediments to support growth of fecal indicator bacteria (E.coli and Enterococcus sp.) and to determine how long these bacteria can persist/survive in water and sediments at in situ winter and summer temperatures. Finally, we are conducting survivability experiments in situ at University Lake. These studies are supported by 2 ACWA grants from the Alaska Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Tracking the source of fecal pollution in Chester Creek using Antibiotic Resistance Analysis (ARA). We also received funding (UAF Water and Environmental Research Center: USGS State Water Resources Research Institute Program and the UAA Chancellor's Fund) to use a form of bacterial source tracking called Antibiotic Resistance Analysis (ARA) to determine the source of fecal material in Chester Creek and University Lake. ARA allows us to determine the percent contribution of fecal material from humans, domestic animals and wild animals by comparing the antibiotic resistance patterns of bacteria isolated from the creek and the lake to the antibiotic resistance patterns of bacteria isolated directly from fecal material from known sources. 

 

Water Assessment Through Education and Research (UAA-WATER)
Frank von Hippel (Dept. Biological Sciences, UAA) and Elaine Major (ENRI, UAA) received funding from the UA Natural Resources fund to examine the water quality of Chester Creek using a community-based service-learning approach that incorporates undergraduate students in a variety of classes doing environmental sampling and analysis as part of their course work. Nine "priority" sample sites along Chester Creekwere chosen by the working group of faculty members (in biology, chemistry, geology, geomatics and engineering) in conjunction with community partners from various municipal, state and federal agencies. As part of this collaborative effort, students in Biol. 340: General Microbiology (Spring 2003, 2004, 2005) and Biol. 450: Microbial Ecology (Fall 2003) conducted a variety of microbiological analyses on water and sediments from Chester Creek. These data will be analyzed and interpreted in the context of data collected from students in other classes across the represented disciplines in order to get an overall picture of water quality, identify "hot spots" of poor water quality, and generate suggestions for creek remediation. Undergraduate students conducting independent research in my lab "bridge the gap" by participating in the UAA-WATER program and the externally funded research projects described above. 

 

Acetate Biogeochemistry in Northern Wetlands: Implications for Methane Formation During Climate Change
Dr. Khrystyne Duddleston, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences 907-786-7752 afkd1@uaa.alaska.edu
Northern wetlands store large quantities of carbon and are significant sources of atmospheric methane due to anaerobic decomposition of organic matter via methanogenesis. Methane in anaerobic environments is primarily derived from acetate fermentation (acetoclastic methanogenisis) and H2 oxidation coupled to CO2 reduction. Acetate is considered the most important carbon intermediate in anaerobic environments, where it turns over rapidly due to bacterial uptake, and in most anaerobic sediments approximately 2/3 of methane produced is the result of acetoclastic methanogenisis. Recent studies suggest that acetoclastic methanogenesis in northern wetlands is insignificant; In our studies in Turnagain bog, Anchorage AK (photo right), we found that acetoclastic methanogenesis does not occur and acetate accumulates under anaerobic conditions. Presently we are testing the hypothesis that this phenomenon is ubiquitous in northern wetlands and that acetate accumulation is an important terminal step in anaerobic degradation of organic matter in these systems. We have recently published 2 papers from this project (Rooney-Varga et al., 2007 and Hines et al., 2008-In Press). This work was supported with funding from the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs.

Objectives:

  • Assess the ubiquity of the acetate-accumulating phenomenon by examining acetate concentrations and production rates, geochemical conditions, and isotopic methane signatures in a variety of northern wetlands (AK, Nova Scotia, Sweden).
  • Examine the controls on methanogenic pathways and acetate cycling.
  • Determine if bacterial populations in northern wetlands are unique compared to anaerobic environments that do not accumulate acetate.

"Team Vinegar": Mark Hines, PI. U. Mass, Lowell Khrys Duddleston, Co-PI. UAA Jeff Chanton, Co-PI. Florida State U. Juliette Rooney-Varga, Co-PI. U. Mass, Lowell

 

UAA's recycling program is a student run program that currently collects mixed paper and cardboard at several locations across campus. The team collects over 30,000 pounds or 15 tons of paper and cardboard each semester. According to the EPA, recycling one ton of mixed paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space, 2 barrels of oil, and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity. To contribute, check the list of pick-up sites and start recycling today.

 

UAA's energy policy strategizes the responsibility to minimize and energy use and cost. According to the energy policy that it "is just one part of the a comprehensive sustainability program, including new building designs and retrofits, designed to reduced to UAA's carbon footprint." UAA has made positive moves that affect lighting, green landscaping, vending, transportation, green buildings, parking, sustainability in the classroom, dining services as well many other services throughout the campus. Check out UAA's webpage on "What's UAA Doing?"