Spotlight on Graduate Research
Hundreds of students participate in GRC 2017
From Arctic out-migration to zinc oxide nanoparticles, trailer park ownership to tiny prehistoric horses, a dizzying range of research by UNH graduate students took the spotlight last week during the Graduate Research Conference (GRC).
Hundreds of graduate students participated in the GRC’s two events, a poster session in the Whittemore Center on April 10 and a full day of oral presentations on April 11. It was the largest GRC since its inception in 2002.
“The GRC promotes discussion and insight that is truly interdisciplinary,” says Myles Lynch '20G, a doctoral student in education and graduate assistant who coordinates the conference. “It provides opportunities for students to connect to a larger community of people, gain feedback from faculty and practice presenting their research.”
At an oral presentation session of students pursuing UNH’s doctorate in natural resources and Earth systems science (NRESS), Abigail Carroll '12G shared her recent findings on ancient global warming events and dwarfing patterns of mammals. The Bighorn Basin of Wyoming “has exquisite high-resolution records” of a series of global warming events 50 million years ago, including a rich fossil record. Carroll looked at the teeth, a great proxy for body size, of the early horse Arenahippus and found that it shrank as the Earth warmed.
“If we can better understand how mammals back then reacted to a global warming event, maybe we can understand how mammals will react to our current warming event,” she said.
Climate change wove thematically throughout several presentations. Sophie Burke '13 detailed her work on thawing permafrost in northern Sweden, where the release of methane into the atmosphere is on the rise.
“Why is this important? Methane is a very strong greenhouse gas, and wetlands in particular are the largest natural source to the atmosphere,” she said.
Sociology student Jochen Wirsing '19G looked north, also, exploring demographics and patterns of migration among the mostly native populations of Nunavut, Canada. And fellow sociologist Jessie Bolin '19G brought a climate change lens to her study of how economic and environmental vulnerability influence peoples’ support of free trade agreements.
“What I expected to find, I didn’t,” said Bolin. “Those most supportive of climate change were most supportive of free trade, which I found surprising.”
Yusi Turell works on the social science side of the NRESS program; her presentation on social entrepreneurs as institutional entrepreneurs used as a case study an initiative that helps owners of manufactured homes — trailers, to many of us — obtain mortgages and even purchase the land on which their homes sit.
The GRC opened with more than 100 poster presentations at the Whittemore Center. Following remarks by provost Nancy Targett and interim dean of the graduate school Cari Moorhead '99G, economics professor Michael Goldberg, the recipient of the 2016 Faculty Mentor Award, gave a keynote address.