Meet the Mammals
Dates: July 10-21, 2017
Arctic mammals are some of the most beautiful and interesting animals in the world, and a great number of them live here with us in Alaska. This module is perfect for students who not only want to learn about the mammals we coexist with, but also how biologists study these mammals and what we can learn from them. With access to the UA Museum of the North, and with the Alaskan wilderness right in our backyards, we can learn a great deal about arctic mammals both in the laboratory and outside in the field. For instance, students will have the opportunity to handle real mammal skulls from the museum collection, and we will learn how to precisely measure parts of the skeleton just as scientists do. Outside, we will hike up Wickersham Dome to visit a marmot den and learn how biologists study animal behavior in real time. Marmots are extremely social animals, so with just one afternoon and a pair of binoculars, we can learn a lot about how marmots spend their day.
The amount of time we spend in the lab relative to out in the field will depend on student preferences, but other potential activities include learning how to set up trap cameras in the wild, visiting the musk oxen and reindeer at the Large Animal Research Station, identifying bones and furs from the museum collection, and observing the hibernating ground squirrels that live on campus. A second focus of the module will be human-wildlife interactions that occur in Alaska, so we will also study ways that people interact both positively and negatively with mammals. For instance, we will visit a local dog sledding yard and discuss how humans have domesticated wild wolves for use, and we will also meet with a park ranger to learn about bear safety and to discuss why bears and humans meet at all in the wild. With the mammal knowledge students have gained from the module, we will be able to discuss how human interactions with mammals, both positive and negative, can be improved in the future.
Apply Here - Link only works during application period, February 1 through April 15
Meet the Instructors
Katie Everson, PhD candiate, Department of Biology & Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks
My name is Katie Everson and I'm a PhD student in the mammals department at the University of Alaska Museum. I spend most of my time studying tenrecs -- a family of small, strange mammals that only live on the island of Madagascar on the other side of the world! Madagascar is very far from here, so sometimes I study Alaskan mammals too (mostly hares and marmots).
I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and I did my bachelor's degree at Ohio State, so it has been exciting to work at the Museum of the North, where I get to study mammals from all over the world. I have been a guest lecturer for the Mammalogy class at UAF for the last two years, but I am excited to teach middle school students! Outside of the classroom, I love rafting, rock climbing, archery, and hanging out with my "little sister" from the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Kendra Mills, PhD student, Department of Biology & Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks
I am a geneticist by training, and here at UAF I study what genes enable marmots to survive the low-oxygen and low-temperature conditions of the alpines. Mammals are fascinating to study because the way their bodies work is so similar to our own, and I am particularly interested in using what we learn about marmots to improve human health. For example, alpine mammals are much better at regulating their blood pressure than humans. If we can figure out what adaptations allow arctic mammals to do this, we may be able to better treat human blood pressure conditions. These types adaptations are exactly what we will learn about in this module! I am very excited to hear your hypotheses about the different mammal adaptations we will encounter, and to teach you how we as biologists can go about testing these hypotheses.