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2023 Arctic Internship Fellows

Hailey Kempf
BS Earth and Environmental Sciences; BS Biochemistry '24

Research on the chemical composition of individual Arctic sea spray aerosol particles in the lab of Dr. Kerri Pratt in Ann Arbor

I applied to the Arctic Internship Fellowship for Spring/Summer 2023 in order to conduct research this summer with the mentorship of Dr. Jessica Mirrielees in the lab of Dr. Kerri Pratt. I had the opportunity to continue the research that I began this past school year and focus much more of my time towards studying Arctic sea spray aerosols.

My biggest educational goal this summer was to complete more independent work in the lab by working full time throughout the summer. This internship provided me with part of the funds to dedicate 400 hours, or ten weeks of full-time work, towards my project. Using samples collected from the Multidisciplinary Drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate (MOSAiC) campaign, I analyzed individual Arctic aerosol particles with Raman microspectroscopy in order to identify and characterize particles by their organic component. Organics within sea spray aerosol particles are influenced by the biological matter in the ocean from which the particles came from. This organic matter can affect a particle’s ability to form clouds and can affect how much radiation a particle can absorb or reflect, thereby impacting the Arctic climate. Given that the Arctic air temperature is increasing at a rate much higher than the global temperature increase, our research can help us better understand the relationship between the Arctic ocean, air, and climate. In addition to analyzing the organic component of sea spray aerosol particles, I used the Raman instrument to map the fluorescence of large areas containing several aerosol particles to identify where and how much fluorescence there was within certain particles. We used these fluorescence maps to identify where and how much material was of biological origin in these particles.

I had the opportunity to present my work from this summer in a poster presentation at the Undergraduate Research and Networking at UMich (URAN|UM) event among other undergraduate students who also participated in research this summer. This proved to be a great chance for me to compile all the work that I had completed this summer as well as present it to a general chemistry audience. I learned a lot through the process of creating the poster and getting feedback from several graduate students who judged posters.

Working with the Pratt group this summer taught me what it’s like to do research full time, which I plan to do someday in graduate school. I really enjoyed working on a project of my own and making decisions to prioritize tasks and get things done on time, and I’m hopeful that a lot of these organizational skills will transfer to my work in the future. I also got the chance to ask a lot of questions and read a lot of literature about the chemistry and biology related to my work, which I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to do while working only three hours a week in

this lab during this past school year. I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the importance of the work I’m doing, and learn a lot more about Arctic atmospheric chemistry through my own work and seeing the work of graduate students in the lab. 

I would like to give a huge thanks to the Program in International Studies and the Arctic Internship Fellowship donors for providing me with this opportunity. Without their support, I would not have been able to grow so much this summer as a scientist and researcher. I also want to thank Dr. Pratt and Dr. Mirrielees for their guidance and mentorship throughout the summer, and for their support as I continue to work with them and the rest of the Pratt group on important Arctic research projects.

Kathryn Kowal

Kathryn Kowal
BA International Studies (Global Environment and Health); minor, Sustainability '24

Intern with the Inuit Circumpolar Council in Alaska and Greenland

In collaboration with the Inuit Circumpolar Council-Alaska, I aimed to deepen my understanding of the Inuit IK regarding marine ecosystems and Food Security and to assess the current Arctic sustainable initiatives. This holistic approach aided in answering my research question:

Can Inuit Indigenous Knowledge inform Arctic marine management for optimal sustainable health of the Arctic abiotic and biotic processes and increase Food Security resilience to climate change? 

I had the opportunity to join ICC and represent the University of Michigan in Ilulissat, Greenland for the 14th ICC Delegation. This meeting occurs every four years to discuss the progression of Inuit initiatives and discuss, strategize, and inform progressing ICC’s mission. This experience, hosted by ICC-Greenland, included cultural performances and storytelling that deeply grew my comprehension of Inuit’s rich culture and how their strength plays a pivotal role in the protection of the Arctic. 

During my tenure as the Summer Intern for ICC-Alaska, I expanded my comprehension of institutional barriers undermining Arctic resilience and Inuit adaptive capacity. This experience enlightened me about ways to refine climate adaptation methodologies. I learned how the Co-production of Knowledge approach practiced by ICC, emphasizing Ethical and Equitable Engagement Protocols influences Arctic management. Such an approach ensures that Inuit Indigenous Knowledge is authentically represented in management frameworks, offering invaluable insights into ecosystem dynamics. When accurately applied on an international scale, this knowledge strengthens interagency collaboration, informing decision-making by improving efficiency and efficacy. 

The opportunity at ICC has significantly enriched my studies in International Studies, specifically within my distinct concentration in Global Environment and Health and minor in Sustainability. I am excited to enrich this knowledge after graduation and expand my comprehension of the intersectionality of public health accordingly and build robust frameworks within research that will promote optimal Climate Adaptation. This opportunity has furthered my passion for environmental justice and holistic community health. 

I greatly appreciate the ICC office in Anchorage, Alaska meaningfully engaging on an Inuit perspective project regarding Arctic management. My gratitude extends to the entire ICC for allowing me to attend the Delegates meeting in Ilulissat. Special thanks to ICC-Greenland for their hospitality. Finally, I am deeply grateful to the University of Michigan’s Program in International and Comparative Studies and the contributing donors for the Arctic Internship/Fellowship grant that invested in the growth of my academic career.

Nolan Loftis
Undeclared - Planning for BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) '26

Remote intern with Dr. Leslie McCartney and with several collaborators on a project called 'Arctic Passion'

This Spring and Summer, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Dr. Leslie McCartney from the University of Alaska Fairbanks on a remote internship, part of the larger Arctic Passion project. I worked with Dr. McCartney on the Gwich'in Elders Biographies Research Project, where I read through a plethora of interview transcripts compiled by Leslie from her work with elders of the Gwich'in tribe of Northern Canada. Specifically, I was tasked with finding instances within the transcripts where elders described anything about changes to the natural environment or, more broadly, what people did or believed in the past. These excerpts were then recorded and organized chronologically into a spreadsheet. All of this was oriented towards creating a rough historical timeline of changes to allow the comparison of indigenous knowledge of previous centuries to today's changes (environmental, social, and spiritual). Through this comparison, a bridge between scientific and indigenous knowledge might be formed to understand better the adverse effects of climate change in different parts of the Arctic. More information on the project can be found here.

Reading the Gwich'in elders' stories was beneficial in so many ways. On the surface, it increased my familiarity with the oral history genre. It helped me sharpen my reading interpretation and comprehension skills. It also helped me hone my attention to detail, as the transcripts required close reading so as not to miss important information. Searching the transcripts for climate-related excerpts allowed me to practice organizing data and selecting pertinent information. I also used my creative judgment and reasoning to identify critical passages/quotes supporting the project's objectives. Throughout the project, I was also engaged with varying degrees of objectivity and subjectivity since transcripts varied in their explicitity. Sometimes, quotations were overt and straightforward, while others required my interpretation and consideration in the project context. These degrees of subjectivity helped me to develop my anthropological thinking in a practical setting, reading the life experiences of real people with rich stories. 

I wanted to gain experience in an internationally oriented project focusing on global issues. My involvement in Arctic Passion definitely fulfilled this goal. Also, it gave me the insight necessary to contextualize my relatively minor role in the scope of a much broader project. I am very grateful to have been able to work on a project with ethical and meaningful objectives, doing work aligned with my interests. I thank the Arctic Internship Fellowship donors for supporting my experience. The grant was especially beneficial as it allowed me to devote more time to the project. Since the internship was remote, it allowed me the flexibility to work at my own pace and to take Spring and Summer classes remotely.

Sarah Stolar
BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation); BA Romance Languages and Literatures; minor, Environment; Honors '24

Remote intern with Dr. Amy Lauren Lovecraft on a project that analyzes environmental justice in practice in the Alaskan Arctic

I was so fortunate to have worked with Professor Amy Lauren Lovecraft this past summer as an Arctic Internship Fellow in partnership with the Center for Arctic Policy Studies at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. The internship was a comprehensive exploration of the Alaskan economic structure, land management and demographic history, and energy and development landscape. We began with broader instruction on these topics, as well as Alaska’s role in international relations, centering on the state’s connection to the Arctic and supply of diverse and valuable natural resources. My passion for environmental justice and socio-demographic research drove the project toward a more concentrated focus: an analysis of interest groups involved in four heavily debated major development and extraction projects in Alaska. Titled “Consistency in Ideology: Mapping Interest Groups in Four Infrastructure Development Megaprojects in Alaska,” my research focused on visually mapping each interest group according to their level of involvement in the debate surrounding these megaprojects, level of authority or influence compared to other groups, and degree of ideological investment in the issue across the projects’ timelines. The constructed map was modeled after “An understanding of water governance systems in responding to extreme droughts in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta” (Nguyen et al., 2020). 

This internship provided me with a completely unique learning experience, as I was able to pursue research in an area I had not been able to explore as in-depth in prior courses or instruction. I was encouraged to experiment with new research methods, such as diagram constriction, and frameworks for interest group studies that I had never worked with before, challenging me to be creative in the communication of my findings. The independent character of the work strengthened my confidence in my research adaptability, while allowing me the freedom to develop my project around my passion for socio-ecological systems. 

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to engage with this research and to learn from Professor Lovecraft’s ample expertise on Alaska and the Arctic. Thank you to PICS, Professor Lovecraft, and the Arctic Internship Fellowship Committee for selecting me for this program — I hope to apply the knowledge and skills I have gained throughout the rest of my academic career and future professional engagement with socio-environmental studies.