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Travel to Toolik (68° 38′ N, 149° 36′ W, AK)

On August 20th, Biology and Wildlife graduate students and researchers traveled to UAF’s Toolik Field Station for an awakening taste of arctic atmosphere. Devin and I used this nine hour road trip north of Fairbanks for investigation…in the 68th degree.

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Some of UAF’s Biology and Wildlife graduate students and scientists pose at the Toolik Field Station welcome sign.

Toolik provided an opportunity to use the MinION sequencing capabilities in the field and sample for microbes on the North Slope.

Materials for soil extraction.
Materials for soil extraction.

Soil sampling and DNA sequencing with the MinION was supplemented with an abundance of scarlet alpine bearberry (Arctostaphylos alpina) and characteristically Alaskan Arctic beauty.

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Hiking along the Atigun river outside of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

New tech, MinION

MinION_UAFThanks to the efforts of Ian Herriot who initiated the application to the Oxford Nanopore MinION Access programme (MAP), we have acquired access to a new nanopore sequencer (pictured above). The MinION at just 87 grams and half the size of an iPhone is so portable that it will visit the International Space Station as a proof of concept in remote collection of DNA sequence data. Working in collaboration with the IAB DNA Core Lab,  the Drown lab will begin experimenting with this technology in the near future and expand access to potential undergraduate researchers in Spring 2016. This device can provide opportunities for student researchers to generate their own low cost DNA sequence data (as little as $500 / experiment).

A journey north into the Arctic

View from the Dalton Highway, just south of the Chandalar Shelf. 68°06'45.4"N 149°32'11.9"W
View from the Dalton Highway, just south of the Chandalar Shelf. Location: 68°06’45.4″N 149°32’11.9″W

September marks the beginning of the new academic year and with it brings a new cohort of graduate students to the Department of Biology and Wildlife. As a bonding experience each year, several researchers lead a trip up to Toolik Field Station in the Arctic. This field station is operated by the Institute of Arctic Biology here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The mission of the field station is

to support research and education that creates a greater understanding of the Arctic and its relationship to the global environment.

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