Projects

Frank von Hippel (Dept. Biological Sciences, UAA) 

This ongoing project initially 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. 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 the lab "bridge the gap" by participating in the UAA-WATER program.

The Chester Creek projects continues a long-term partnership with the Russian Jack Community Council to meet the need for water quality information. Students provide a community service while learning hands-on applications for monitoring, watershed health, and human health impacts. This year focuses on the re-assessment of water and habitat quality in light of the restoration of the lagoon and uses GIS to analyze and map data.

 Chester Creek

Food Security Project
Professor Mark Carper, Geography/Environment & Society 907-786-6007 afmdc@uaa.alaska.edu

A CCEL Minigrant of $6,000 funded the project in addition to several Community Engaged Student Assistants (CESAs) and paid student research assistants. The goal of the Food Security Project is to create a public GIS document that demonstrates the availability of locally grown food to portions of Anchorage.
Surveys recorded 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, and types of food (organic, Inorganic, CSA). In addition, for a community project, students in the "People Places, & Ecosystems" class were able to participate. The goal of the survey being distributed was 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. Surveys were distributed and analyzed during summer and fall 2011.
 honey

Campus Garden
UAA Sustainability Club & UAA Heifer Club
Faculty Contacts: Sunny Mall, UAA College of Education, Sustainability Club Advisor afalm@uaa.alaska.edu

"Growing" out of the values and interests of the students of the Sustainability and Heifer International Clubs, the work began to develop a plan to build a community garden on the UAA campus. The project was 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. Office of Sustainability Financial support ($300) guarantees to maintain or dismantle the garden if clubs fail to maintain it or dissolve before dismantling it. 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. Green Earth Land Works Offered to donate $800 worth of plants and seeds as well as a microbial soil supplement (EM1) for the garden. 
 

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  

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, this project seeks to conduct a social assessment and policy review of black bear management. 

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. 

  

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, 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.

 UAA's Recycling Program is a student run program started in 2000 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. In FY 2014, UAA's Recycling Program diverted 309,157 pounds of recyclables from the landfill. 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. 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?"