Thursday, November 3, 2011

Science Friends in the North Pacific

Bruce, my favorite prof from UAF, and I at a Kuril party
This week my advisor hosted a Kuril project workshop at UW - the culmination of five years of National Science Foundation-funded interdisciplinary research on human and environmental history in the Kuril Islands of the Russian Far East. I participated in the Kuril project as a field archaeologist during the summer of 2008 - an experience of a lifetime, in many respects. I did enjoy hearing the results of the research this week, especially the environmental history side (I know the archaeology since that is what I have been most involved with), but it was also fun to see some of the people again. Not only did I see some of the Russian and Japanese scientists we had worked with in the field, I also got to see two people I worked with at UAF when I was an undergrad who are now also involved in the Kuril project - Bruce, the professor I worked for while I was an undergrad, and Jason, one of his grad students. I was reminded how small the community is of scientists who work in the North Pacific.

Not only did I work with Jason in Bruce's lab, but he also shared an office with Ryan in the geology department at UAF. Jason has also become involved with the Sanak project (which I worked on with Bruce in 2004). Besides catching up with the Finney lab crowd, I was also reminded how many connections there are between scientists who work in the Russian Far East and UAF. For instance, one of the Japanese volcanologists told me that he is a visiting professor at UAF's Geophysical Institute this semester and he knows Ryan's advisor from grad school. One of the Japanese geology grad students also went on a UAF summer field course to the Katmai caldera (how cool is that?!?) and knows some of the UAF grad students that Ryan and I knew. The Japanese archaeologist involved with the Kuril project also worked in Kodiak with my advisor several years ago.

There are certainly a lot of parallels between the environments and people of coastal regions of Alaska and the Russian Far East. It's cool to be involved in such collaborate/comparative research and to remember how small the world really is.

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