Arctic Field Projects

Project Title: IRES: Research Training in Climate Change Microbiology in Greenland and Denmark (Award# 1460152)

PI: Holben, William E (
Phone: (406) 243.6163 
Institute/Department: U of Montana, Division of Biological Sciences 
IPY Project?
Funding Agency: US\Federal\NSF\IRES
Program Manager: Dr. Mangala Sharma (
Discipline(s): | Biology\Microbial Ecology | Biology\Microbiology | Education and Outreach |

Project Web Site(s):

Science Summary:
Over a three-year period, this International Research Experience for Students (IRES) program will engage two U.S. undergraduate and two U.S. graduate students annually, for a total of twelve participants, at research sites in Greenland and Denmark to study Arctic microbiology and biogeochemistry under multiple climate change scenarios. Following required training and research preparation at the University of Montana, students travel to Copenhagen for orientation and introduction to international mentors before they depart for three weeks of field work in Greenland. Throughout, students are co-mentored by William Holben, the U.S. principal investigator (PI), and a team of experts associated with the Greenlandic Center for Permafrost Studies (CENPERM), a center that is administered by the University of Copenhagen and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. Each student's research training will include experience with planning and implementing field strategies for permafrost, ice sheet, and hot spring and glacier sampling in a way that promotes student ownership of individual projects, while facilitating the integration of multiple data sets obtained throughout the duration of this IRES activity. Results are expected to contribute to what is known about thawing permafrost and accelerated microbial decomposition of large amounts of organic matter stored in Arctic ecosystems. Following each season of fieldwork and sample processing in Greenland, participants return to Copenhagen to prepare collected samples for metagenomic DNA and mRNA sequencing and bioinformatic analysis. These will be studied for patterns of microbial community change that reflect differing and changing environmental parameters. Upon returning to Montana students will continue the computational and bioinformatic aspects of their studies. Results should provide new insights into microbial community structure and activities on sheet ice and glaciers, as well as microbial biogeochemical cycling contributions to greenhouse gas emissions from permafrost soils. Over the course of this IRES program, the U.S. and CENPERM partners expect to deepen their collaboration through international teamwork, research training, and cultural interaction, as they mentor and engage a cadre of diverse students, including Native Americans, to become the next generation of climate change experts. For broader impact, all participating U.S. students will benefit from early career experience with the kind of long-term relationship, professional network and research collaboration that is increasingly necessary to address complex global ecological issues.

Logistics Summary:
This NSF funded International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) project seeks to create an IRES program to provide University of Montana undergraduate and graduate students with an international research and educational experience in the microbial ecology of climate change in an interdisciplinary research and learning environment in Greenland and Denmark. The PI is collaborating with the University of Aarhus, Roskilde Campus to mentor the students. In mid-July 2016, 2017 and 2018 a field team of four will deploy to Zackenberg Station, Greenland for approximately 2 weeks for sample collection in support of the research activities. Following sample collection in Greenland, the students will spend some time at Aarhus University further analyzing those samples with the tools of molecular microbial ecology with foreign mentors in the Department of Environmental Science.

In 2017 and 2018 CPS support is limited to the inclusion of their field team on the GoG SAR report only. All other logistics will be arranged and paid for by the PI from the research grant.
SeasonField SiteDate InDate Out#People
2016Greenland - Zackenberg07 / 26 / 2016 08 / 10 / 20164
2017Greenland - Zackenberg07 / 18 / 2017 08 / 02 / 20174
2018Greenland - Zackenberg07 / 10 / 2018 07 / 25 / 20184

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