Strolling through Fairbanks, Alaska is the Chena River, all glassy and glorious beneath a sky miraculously scrubbed of smoke from the fires that clouded it a day before I arrived. A visit to Alaska has been a wish for quite a long time and it’s great to finally be here on my way to Toolik Field Station as a Logan science journalism Arctic fellow with the Marine Biological Lab (MBL).
The first part of the MBL fellowship took place last month closer to home, in Woods Hole, MA, where scientists taught a group of ten journalists how to be more like them, from mucking about in the field to staying up late and cross-eyed making the computations on your Excel spreadsheet make sense. My project partner Amy Quinton, an environment reporter for Capital Public Radio, wrote a great blog post about our work in the salt marshes there.
For the Arctic portion of the fellowship, Michael Werner, a talented filmmaker/journalist from Seattle, and I will climb into a truck tomorrow and head about ten hours north of Fairbanks to Toolik, which is a remote Long-Term Ecological Research station where NSF-funded researchers come to study the ecology of the Arctic. We’ll have a chance to work alongside the scientists, learning by doing.
Today, with one day in Fairbanks, I decided to get my bearings straight by learning more about the Bering Strait and surrounding environs. The Museum of the North at the University of Alaska helped me along. There were stuffed grizzlies, wolves, and lynx.
A couple great films on the aurora borealis (solar wind + earth’s atmosphere + magnetism) and Bowhead whales (which might live as long as 200 years), photographs of native life…
…and Nanook… (apologies that I neglected to get photographers’ names)
And even a magnificent folk art outhouse throne, which you were invited to sit in, if not actually use.
Over the next couple weeks, the days will be long. Last night lasted only a few hours, and it was a twilight night at that. Hopefully I’ll have time to post more of what’s to come.