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Alaska research station to host biology boot camp for journalists

Submitted by Marie Gilbert
Phone: 907-474-7412

06/03/08

Ten mid-career journalists from across the country will spend two weeks in July clad in bug jackets and neoprene boots living the life of an arctic scientist at the Institute of Arctic Biology's Toolik Field Station on Alaska's North Slope.

The journalists are recipients of a prestigious Science Journalism Polar Fellowship designed to help reporters learn what it's like to be a field scientist so they can better communicate science research to the public.

The polar fellowships were created for the International Polar Year by the Marine Biological Laboratory, an internationally known biomedical and environmental research and educational center in Massachusetts as part of their Science Journalism Program. The program, now in its 23rd year, allows reporters to immerse themselves in the rigors and routines of basic environmental research through intensive hands-on training and field work.

Journalists will participate in a weeklong, hands-on laboratory course focusing on key arctic questions including how changes in climate will affect carbon balance in tundra ecosystems, will shrub and tree expansion in the tundra accelerate arctic climate warming, how much permafrost is disappearing and what are the consequences and how will changes in climate affects fish and other aquatic life in the Arctic. The following week, the journalists will team up with scientists to report side-by-side in the field and laboratory.

Toolik Field Station, part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and administered by the Institute of Arctic Biology, is a world-renowned arctic climate change research facility located in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range which operates year-round and attracts an international scientific clientele.

As a National Science Foundation Arctic Observing Network site, Toolik Field Station is part of a system of atmospheric, land- and ocean-based environmental monitoring sites expected to significantly improve observations of arctic environmental conditions. The station is also the MBL-administered Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research site, part of a network of sites established by NSF to predict the effects of environmental change, both natural and anthropogenic, on tundra, streams and lakes through long-term monitoring of natural environments and experimental manipulations.

This year's MBL Science Journalism Fellows are:
Alan Burdick, author and freelance writer
Scott Canon, national correspondent, The Kansas City Star
Nancy Cohen, environmental reporter, WNPR
Carrie Peyton Dahlberg, senior writer, Sacramento Bee
Christine Dell'Amore, editor, National Geographic News
Leslie Dodson, freelance science correspondent, NBC WeatherPlus
Marilia Melo Juste Dini, reporter, G1/Globo.com
Richard Morgan, freelance writer
Jason Orfanon, producer, National Geographic Television
Wade Rawlins, environmental reporter, The News & Observer

The MBL Science Journalism Program has granted fellowships to more than 250 journalists from a wide range of news organizations including The New York Times, Science, National Public Radio, The Washington Post, CNN and Scientific American and includes alumni from Africa, Brazil, Sweden, India, Japan and the United Kingdom. The program is supported in part by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Cell Biology, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, FASEB, NASA, The New York Times Company Foundation and the Society for Neuroscience. The polar fellowships are made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation. For more information about the MBL's Science Journalism Program, visit www.mbl.edu/sjp.

CONTACT: Marie Gilbert, information officer, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 907-474-7412, marie.gilbert@uaf.edu