2017 RID Awards

PROJECT: Optimizing Safety and Efficacy of a Drug-Induced Hibernation-like State in Rats

PI: Kelly Drew, Professor, UAF

The ability to induce a hibernation-like state in humans is expected to protect astronauts from the damaging effects of ionizing radiation. In consultation with NASA scientist, Dr. Yuri Griko and SpaceWorks Enterprises the present proposal quantifies hemodynamic risks associated with a drug-induced hibernation-like state in laboratory rodents. By measuring blood pressure with and without a pharmaceutical formulation designed to alleviate the risk of low blood pressure during drug-induced hibernation we will define the safety of our technology in a rodent model. We will then develop our next step to define the efficacy of this approach to protect against radiation exposure. These proposed follow-up studies which are designed to mitigate challenges of deep space flight align with NASA’s research priorities and will be the focus of an EPSCoR CAN proposal.

PROJECT: Quantitative Late Pleistocene Temperature Records from Southeast Alaska Speleotherms

PI: Sarah Fowell, Associate Professor, UAF

Understanding relationships between vegetation cover and regional temperature during past intervals of rapid warming is crucial to predicting the impact of future warming on plant communities. Biological and paleontological data indicate that small populations of forest plants and animals persisted in Alaska during the last ice age. Locations of these refugia remain elusive, but evidence points to the emergent continental shelf of southeastern Alaska. With a PhD research assistant, I propose to collect and analyze limestone deposits, or speleothems, from caves in Southeast Alaska’s Alexander Archipelago in order to produce a record of regional temperature change that captures the last glacial/interglacial transition. These first quantitative paleotemperature records from southeast Alaska will allow evaluation of the potential for trees such as pine or mountain hemlock to survive on the adjacent continental shelf during ice ages and assess the feasibility of human migration through this region during or immediately after the last glacial maximum. Comparison with existing pollen and spore assemblages will elucidate the impact of temperature changes on vegetation of the North Pacific and provide ground-truth temperature and ground cover data for paleoclimate models.

PROJECT: Developing new techniques for measuring and predicting river-ice breakup in Alaska villages

PI: Carl Tape, Associate Professor, UAF

The annual spring breakup of river ice can be a dramatic, devastating, and unpredictable event in Alaska, as evidenced by the Yukon river floods at Eagle in 2009 and at Galena in 2013. When and where breakup initiates on a river is important for predicting the likelihood of flooding events caused by jammed river ice. This project will acquire three different measurements of pre-breakup river ice on the Tanana river in central Alaska: variations in ambient seismic noise generated by the river, time-lapse photographs of the river, and repeated aerial orthoimages of the river ice surface.

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