Research student at Boreal Centre

Callie Hermanson
Lakeside Leader

Slave Lake recently welcomed a 26-year-old Ph.D. research student from Columbia University in Manhattan New York. Ruthie Oliver has been coming to Slave Lake the past three springs, studying robins.

Her focus is on ecological research and animals on the move.

Oliver comes to do research for the NASA Arctic Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE) at the Boreal Centre. ABoVE is a NASA Ecology Program field campaign that is being conducted in Alaska and Western Canada.

Oliver’s reseaerch involves the placing of small, lightweight GPS units on the birds to track things such as geographical conditions, melting in snow areas and greenery. She says at any time she can track the bird though satellite information photos without having to recapture the birds.

So far there are 45 GPS trackers out on robins.

Oliver’ undergraduate degree is in physics. But she always liked environmental issues and ecology, so she decided to go into environmental science.

Once back in New York, she will write a paper based on the research at the Boreal Centre.

“I hope to get my paper published in a scientific journal and present it at conferences with other scientists,” she says.

Oliver has been in Slave Lake since April 14 and left Saturday, May 5.

“I am very appreciative of the opportunity to work with the Boreal Centre,” she says, adding that she wishes should could have seen the lake without ice. Oliver says she will graduate school next fall with her Ph.D.

According to information supplied by Oliver, ABoVE’s science objectives are broadly focused on gaining a better understanding of the vulnerability and resilience of Arctic and boreal ecosystems to environmental change in western North America.

They are providing the scientific basis for informed decision-making to guide social responses at local to international levels.

Research for ABoVE will link field-based, process-level studies with data that is associated with a various factors.

These factors include particular location, products traced from airborne and satellite sensors; these provide a foundation for improving the analysis, and modeling capabilities needed to understand and predict ecosystem responses and social implications.

Ruthie Oliver

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