Make The Connection

Insights from Alaska

June 18, 2018 – by Cole Hatcher

Alix Templeman ’19 enjoys Alaska as part of an OWU Connection experience with students studying climate change through plant biology and mathematical modeling. Here, she sits in the snow in front of the Gulkana Glacier. (Photo by Carson Shaw ’18)

OWU Students Explore Climate Change in the Last Frontier

Name: Alix Templeman ’19

Hometown: Stirling, New Jersey

Major: Psychology

Minor: Women’s and Gender Studies

Experience: Travel-Learning Course, “Plant Responses to Global Change”

Templeman traveled to Alaska for two weeks in May as part of professor Laurie Anderson’s Botany-Microbiology course exploring how plants are reacting to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, increases in temperature, increases in nitrogen deposition, and changes in precipitation patterns. The OWU Connection trip also included Mathematics and Computer Science professor Craig Jackson and students in his “Mathematical Models of Climate” course, who examined climate from the point of view of mathematical modeling.

Lessons learned

“From the first day of our trip, I was able to make connections to class material. In every biology-related activity we did, I was able to find some connection to something we learned in class, whether it was about thawing permafrost, different successional stands, or the different research organizations like LTER (Long Term Ecological Research) or NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network).

“It was wild to see how thawing permafrost was affecting things like the roads in Alaska, leaving you with bumpy roads because ice wedges were thawing underneath the asphalt. It was also really cool to see some of the plants and succession stages that we spoke about in class, and to even see a sight that had recently been burned and how that site was progressing.

“I think this experience in Alaska really solidified all the class material throughout the semester because we were able to see it in real life and not just through pictures on a PowerPoint.”

Alix Templeman ’19 takes tree core samples with Ohio Wesleyan students and biologists from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, during her recent OWU Connection trip. (Photo by Carson Shaw ’18)

Trip highlights

“Climate change and environmentalism in general are two topics near and dear to my heart, and I really wanted to go to Alaska. (It’s been on my bucket list forever!)

“Besides meeting the sled dogs of Denali National Park (which was AWESOME), we met with a park biologist at the park, Sarah, and she taught us a bunch of different plant identifications as she showed us some of the research sights in the park.

“It was really cool to learn about some of the native plants in Alaska and now I can tell the difference between white spruce and black spruce, and between a bunch of different mosses!”

Why I chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I am a legacy here (third generation after my grandpa, dad, and uncle), and when I visited I knew this was where I wanted to go.”

My plans after graduation

“I plan to attend grad school for a Psychology/Women’s and Gender Studies program.