Nick Uline from Woods Hole’s Marine Biology Lab visits McCookout

Nick talking to one of our students during McCookout

Nick talking to one of our students during McCookout

Nick Uline visited McCookout today, telling students about the Semester in Environmental Science Program (SES) at the marine biology Laboratory (MBS – these guys sure like acronyms ;-) at Woods Hole. The program offers an exciting semester focusing on global change and biochemistry on Woods Hole’s campus on Cape Cod. Our environmental science majors could transfer three courses which count towards their major. These courses would replace Methods in ENVS (ENVS 275L) and two electives. Since the second half of the semester is spent on an independent research project, our majors could also fulfill their integrating experience requirement at woods Hole and might even expand their project into a thesis.

The program is a great opportunity for students who would like to go on to graduate school. It offers plenty of great science and allows you to make the first connections in the graduate school world. You should give it some serious thought!

Cassia Armstrong and Andrew Agard Present their Project for Peace

Cassia and Andrew presenting their Project for Peace

Cassia and Andrew presenting their Project for Peace

Not only did Cassia join us for our ENVS field trip to Utah in May and work for Jon Gourley over the summer, she also found time to install a rainwater harvesting system in Trinidad. The project originated from a research proposal that she and Andrew Agard wrote for their ISP first-year seminar. The two then submitted their proposal entitled Promoting Peace through Environmental Sustainability to the Davis Foundation and won a 10,000 dollar grant to design and install their rainwater harvesting system to support a community-based reforestation project in Trinidad.

Cassia and Andrew started with a short overview of their project and followed up with a video documentary produced by Cassia. The video is not quite up yet, but you can read about their project here.

ENVS 275 Students conquer the Park River yet again!

by Dr. Joan Morrison

Sarah Black ('18) braving the Park river to take stream flow measurements.

Sarah Black (’16) braving the Park river to take stream flow measurements.

Even last night’s serious rainstorm did not deter Sarah and Helen from braving the raging torrents in the North Branch of the Park River to get the flow and depth data needed to calculate stream discharge, part of their Methods project.  At least it was an exciting day, quite different from the past few weeks where the stream has hardly even been a quarter meter in depth and flow rates close to 0 cf/s.

Sarah and Helen Samuels ('16) stretching a measuring tape across the river.

Sarah and Helen Samuels (’16) stretching a measuring tape across the river.

White Mountain Research at the Science Symposium

Students presenting the results of their summer research at the Science Symposium

Students presenting the results of their summer research at the Science Symposium

Today, during lunch hour, Jon’s summer research students Cassia, Jack and David presented the results of heir summer research to the wider College community. They had three posters outlining their ongoing research on the effects of clear cutting on Mercury, Aluminum and Calcium concentrations in forest soils. This research project, now in its second year, continues research initiated by Justin and Dan.

David presenting introductory information on the ongoing White Mountain research project.

David presenting introductory information on the ongoing White Mountain research project.

Cassia and Jack showed some of the first results. Cassia focused on changes in organic matter and mercury, while Jack presented data on Aluminum and Calcium.

Jack and Cassia explaining the results of their summer work.

Jack and Cassia explaining the results of their summer work.

Just in case you wondered: yes, Cameron’s crew was pretty busy too all summer. Jordyn presented their research in a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America (ESA) in Baltimore.

 

Sustainability Roundtable Talks at Trinity

by Isabelle Moore (’18)

The first sustainability roundtable meeting organized by Green Campus and the ENVS program.

The first sustainability roundtable meeting organized by Green Campus and the ENVS program.

Yesterday was the first of what I hope will become a series of Sustainability Roundtable Talks at Trinity. The goal of the event, which was organized by Green Campus and the Environmental Science Program, was to bring together students, faculty, and staff members within the Trinity community who are each in some way involved in sustainability efforts on campus.

Despite a bit of a rocky start, (and only a few days to put this event together) we managed to get a roomful of about 20 students, staff, and faculty. After everyone got food and introductions were made, people got to voice different sustainability concerns present on campus as well as propose possible solutions.

We touched on topics such as up and coming compost projects, energy efficient lighting in the library (our best-lit building on campus), and on campus parking (a daily struggle for all). The overwhelming conclusion of the event was that a lot of cool sustainability projects are going down at Trinity. What we need to work on now is doing a better job of publicizing them.

Notes from Japan

by Jon Gourley

While Christoph was in search of Cleopatra in Utah,  I accompanied Prof. Jeff Baylis from the History Department on a two week trip to Japan as part of the course:  Seismic Disasters in Japan, Then and Now: Earth, Environment and Culture.  The trip was attended by ENVS recent graduate Tori Shea (’15) as well as several other Trinity students from various departments.

The trip’s highlights included visits to various historic sites in Japan that have endured catastrophic natural disasters.  These disasters are deep reminders to the Japanese people of the fragility of life and everyday threat that goes with inhabiting this beautiful island.

In Tokyo we visited the museum and memorial of the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, where 10s of thousands assembled in a park after the shaking only to be incinerated by the fires that engulfed the city.

The Tokyo Sky Tower

The Tokyo Sky Tower

All lined up… typical neatness of Japanese culture.

All lined up… typical neatness of Japanese culture.

Bullet trains were the preferred mode of transportation and we used our rail passes to visit the tourist town of Karuizawa, just west of Tokyo in the Japanese Alps. Karuizawa sits below the one of the most active volcanic regions in Japan, Mt. Asama.  Just prior to our arrival the threat level of the mountain had been increased and climbers were not allowed to be within 200 meters of the crater due to gaseous emissions.  We spent one day hiking on Mt. Asama and made it to the first emergency shelter before we had to head back down.  Before leaving the Asama region we also visited the village of Tsumagoi that had been completed buried in the 1783 from a debris flow that started on Asama.  The village was rediscover in part during and excavation in the 1970s.

Best sushi in Tokyo!

Best sushi in Tokyo!

Waiting for our bullet train at Tokyo Station

Waiting for our bullet train at Tokyo Station

Hiking trail up Mt. Asama.

Hiking trail up Mt. Asama.

Panoramic of Mt. Asama (right) and 1783 lava flow (below).

Panoramic of Mt. Asama (right) and 1783 lava flow (below).

Watch the video of steaming Mt. Asama

Back on the bullet train, we headed north to the region that was devastated by the 2011 great Honshu earthquake and tsunami.  While much of the clean-up for many of the cities , towns and villages has completed, the region is far from recovered.   No photo does the scope of the problem justice but a city that was one of the hardest hit, Rikuzentakata, is attempting to rebuild by literally moving mountains.  A giant rock crusher and conveyor system is moving earth material from adjacent hills and raising the ground level of the valley for future building.  The scene is surreal when one considers that the vast open valley once was a densely populated town.   It was sobering yet inspiring as to how the inhabitants of Rikukentakata are attempting to bring back their city.

Conveyors bringing earth materials from mountains in the background.

Conveyors bringing earth materials from mountains in the background.

See the rock crushers

We stayed most of time in the Honshu region at the Hotel Boyo in the fishing town of Kesannuma.  It was an especially important place during the tsunami because of its proximity on the hillside above the town.  It’s one of the few major buildings in town that was not destroyed during the tsunami and fires that ensued. The proprietor “Eddie” Eiichi Kato-san and his family had no choice but to open the hotel up as an emergency shelter in the aftermath of the disaster.  Kato-san was a wonderful host who shared his stories of the disasters (some were very difficult for him to tell) and despite the horror of the event he has an incredible outlook on life now.  He told me that since the disaster he has met extraordinary people from all around the world.  From the volunteers that came in the initial weeks and months after the tsunami, to the people who (Like our group) that come now to Kesannuma to learn about what happened and how the region is rebuilding, he is optimistic that the Kesannuma’s best days are yet to come.

Temporary structures in Kesennuma to allow restaurant and shop owners to stay open for business.

Temporary structures in Kesennuma to allow restaurant and shop owners to stay open for business.

A meal so grand it needed a panoramic.  Trinity students enjoy a feast from the Kato family at Hotel Boyo.

A meal so grand it needed a panoramic. Trinity students enjoy a feast from the Kato family at Hotel Boyo.

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Unveiling at the Knox Preserve

Gathering at the Knox Preserve under the watchful eye of several ferocious guard dogs.

Gathering at the Knox Preserve under the watchful eye of several ferocious guard dogs.

Members of the Avalonia Land Conservancy and Trinity’s ENVS program spent Saturday morning at the Knox Preserve in Stonington, CT to unveil four interpretative signs that outline the major habitats of the Knox Preserve. the signs were designed by Eunice Kimm (’14) as part of her integrating experience. During her senior year Eunice worked closely with Drs. Cameron Douglass and Joan Morrison, identifying and drawing birds that are common at the preserve and designing the signs.

Eunice Kimm ('14) enjoying the sunset at Fimmvörðuháls in southern Iceland during our 2014 field trip to iceland.

Eunice Kimm (’14) enjoying the sunset at Fimmvörðuháls in southern Iceland during our 2014 field trip to iceland.

The event started with lots of good food from the First and Last Bakery and a few short introductory statements by Beth Sullivan from the Avalonia Land Conservancy and Cameron Douglass from Trinity College. Beth thanked all the volunteers who help to maintain the preserve and  came out at the crack of dawn to install the signs. Cameron told us about the ecological value of the preserve, the Conservancy’s efforts to combat invasive species and, and Connectiut’s unofficial state plant.

Beth Sullivan and Cameron Douglass standing between us and the coffee. :-(

Beth Sullivan and Cameron Douglass (with borrowed hat!) standing between us and the coffee. :-(

The unveiling took only seconds (I almost missed it), but Cameron kept us entertained by introducing us to the various habitats and the management challenges associated with each.

The moment of truth - no, don't tell us about any typos!

The moment of truth – no, don’t tell us about any typos!

We then went on a short walk through the preserve, learning about the history of the site and the ongoing research performed by Cameron, Joan and their students.

In the meadow part of the preserve.

In the meadow part of the preserve.

Trinity crew with one of Eunice's signs. Sarah, Emily, Cameron with Parker (class of '36), Christoph (luriing Parker with some coffee), and saintly Preston (who still acts surprisingly normal after spending weeks with Cameron's all-female research crew)

Trinity crew with one of Eunice’s signs. Sarah, Emily, Cameron with Parker (class of ’36), Christoph (luring Parker with some coffee), and saintly Preston (who still acts surprisingly normal after spending weeks with Cameron’s all-female research crew)

Wildflowers galore!

Wildflowers galore!

You can learn more about the Avalonia Land Conservancy and the Knox Preserve by visiting the Conservancy’s website or reading Beth Sullivan’s blog. You can see Eunice’s signs for yourself by visiting the preserve and hiking the trails. Directions to the site are here – just don’t mess with Cameron’s flagging tape!

 

Cleopatra and the Rocks – Day 10: Rapids, What Rapids?

Our campsite at the little D

Our campsite at the little D

This morning I repay Sarah for some of her lost beauty sleep: Colin and Susan let us sleep in until 8 before the smell of coffee makes us crawl out of our sleeping bags.

What a couple!

What a couple!

The vultures are circling the breakfast chefs.

The vultures are circling Colin, the breakfast chef. The omelets were delicious!

We had a lazy breakfast: omelets with more coffee. Then Colin and Susan slowly broke camp, while we were enjoying the peace and quiet. By now we are pros in packing up, so everything was ready within 15 minutes. Then it went into the rapids.

Susan and the girls getting ready for the rapids.

Susan and the girls getting ready for the rapids.

Colin’s raft went first and we went for a 45 minute ride through some exciting whitewater. It was over way too soon! :-(

Almost at the end of Westwater canyon.

Almost at the end of Westwater canyon.

Christopher celebrating the quiet waters.

Christopher celebrating the quiet waters.

Almost lunchtime!

Almost lunchtime!

Yesterday we hiked at little hole. Now we passed big hole, an abandoned meander bend, before we had lunch. Lunch again was delicious: build your own sandwiches and stuff your face with cookies! We were experts in both events!

lunchtime

lunchtime

the girls swimming in the river

the girls swimming in the river

Now that all the rapids were behind us we also had the opportunity to jump into the river. The girls covered themselves with mud and worked on their tans on a rock in the river. Son we were off again and around 2 PM we arrived at the Cisco boat launch where Allen was still waiting for us. In no time everything was unpacked, the rafts were loaded onto a trailer and everybody was off. On our way to Green River we visited the petroglyphs and pictographs at Sego Canyon. In Green River we had a chance to visit the Holiday headquarters, buy a shirt, and have some soft-serve ice cream (A sure sign of a dying town!). A few hours later we arrived in salt lake, checked into our hotel rooms, had pizza for dinner and went to sleep in a real bed for the first time in ten days.

One last thunderstorm in Salt Lake.

One last thunderstorm in Salt Lake.

The End!

back to Day 9

want to see Cassia’s cool video one more time?
here you go