a.) What is your background? Where are you from? What do you study? What are you most interested in, scientifically?
I am currently an undergraduate at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. I am planning on graduating this April with a degree in Biology and an emphasis in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. During my time at Grand Valley, I joined the Arctic Ecology Program and began working on a project affiliated with the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) that aims to quantify the changes in tundra vegetation in response to climate change. This project requires me to spend the summer in the Alaskan Arctic; which is truly amazing. I plan to stay on this project as a Master’s student starting this fall. My interests mainly focus on climate change and its impact on vegetation. I am becoming increasingly interested in plant functional traits and CO2-flux measurements.
b.) What are your goals for the upcoming course in Peru? How will you know if you’ve met these goals?
My ultimate goal is to learn as much as I can. I am hoping to become more familiar with taking plant trait measurements, as well as learning how to operate the LiCor equipment. I am also very excited to hear about everyone’s work and research, because I feel like I have a lot to learn from everyone. I will know if I have met these goals if I am able to apply my knowledge to my future graduate project.
c.) What are you most excited about, with respect to the upcoming course and trip?
I am most excited to experience a new environment of research and to gain new life experiences. Being able to study and do research abroad has always been a dream of mine and I am so excited to make it a reality. I am also greatly excited for all the research methods and tools I am going to learn.
d.) What do you anticipate people will think about climate change in Peru? Do you think most people will accept that the planet is warming, and that this is largely being caused by human activities? Or will this topic be controversial?
Just like in many current issues, I believe there will be some controversy regarding climate change among the Peruvian people. However, since they might be experiencing the effects of climate change more than other places, many people might acknowledge that climate change is happening, but they might not know why. If the people do acknowledge that climate change is happening, they might not be able to give a reason for it.
e.) What do you know about public perceptions of climate change in your home country? What, if anything, have you experienced related to public perceptions of climate change?
In my home country, there is more controversy over climate change than there should be. I think that many people in my country rely on the media to inform them of what is happening in the world, instead of actually reading up on the topic. I also believe that there are many people that acknowledge climate change, but few that are willing to make a change. I grew up in rural Michigan where there is little understanding of what climate change actually means. In this area, most people tend to avoid the topic all together. On the other hand, I have also met the complete opposite in Michigan and have met people who have completely changed their lifestyle to combat climate change. As for the communities in the Arctic, the Inupiat people are able to recognize there is a change in their climate and their environment, but they are not sure what is causing this change.