Hello blog following friends! Welcome to the first blog post about the Icelandic Field Studies (IFS) program 2018. My name is Madeline and I am a sophomore environmental sustainability major at Earlham. In our IFS program this year, we have 17 people including students from all classes and many majors, and four faculty leaders who have a plethora of different skills to offer. We have all been working hard on developing and refining our research projects for the past few weeks and I am excited to summarize them here as well as give you a look at our first day in country.
There a few major interests in our group this year: Biology, computer science, geology/glaciology, and sustainability. Within these groups, there are subgroups who are working on various projects within the above disciplines. I am most acquainted with the biology side of things, so I’ll start there. There are three different projects happening under the bio umbrella. The first is on DNA sampling in soil samples. This project is hoping to gather data on the changing bacterial communities in the soil over time as glaciers have melted and the soil has become exposed to the air. This can help us create a timeline of areas based on the bacterial communities present there and help us examine how glacial recession affects bacterial communities. The next project is going to trap insects in fake flowers and monitor the pollinator populations in the area of study. The last project in biology on the effect of Lupine on the reproductive success or gametic investment (depending on if we find hatchlings or eggs) of Arctic Tern nests at our area of study. Lupine is an invasive, nitrogen-fixing plant that was introduced to Iceland to improve the soil. We will collect data on nests in areas with Lupine and areas without Lupine. This project will also be helpful in monitoring the Tern populations at our area of study.
The sustainability folks are building an efficient as possible mock greenhouse to see if a larger one would be plausible in the future. There will be more about this project in a later blog post.
The computer science team are interwoven in every other discipline while also programming drones that will capture images of many of the places we are going. These will be helpful in making GIS maps later and monitoring how the areas change. There will also be more description of these projects in later blog posts.
Those have been our research focuses for the past three weeks, but today we finally arrived in country and will be able to begin working on them. We spent all of May 30thpacking and finishing up last minute things in preparation for the trip. Then, at 8 p.m. we loaded two 12 passenger vans with ourselves and our large amount of luggage and made our way to the Cincinnati airport. After checking our luggage and moving through security, we got on our 12:30 a.m. flight to Reykjavik. We had a six-hour flight and arrived in Reykjavik at about 11:30 a.m. Iceland time which is 7:30 a.m in Indiana. We then made our way to the hostel we will be staying at for the next few nights and split into shopping groups to gather more things we needed. We ended the day with a delicious stir-fry dinner and are looking forward to hitting the hay after many hours of traveling. Tune in tomorrow for another exciting installment!