Holy Cross Junior Conducts Research in Siberian Arctic Over the Summer

October 4th, 2012 by 


Though she’s from the iconic town of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., Madeleine “Maddie” LaRue, a member of the College of the Holy Cross class of 2014, ventured far away from home this past summer, as she conducted scientific research in the Siberian Arctic. After successfully applying for a spot on the Polaris Project team, a collaborative organization that includes students, teachers, and scientists, she spent the month of July researching the Arctic landscape.

A biology major concentrating in environmental studies, LaRue originally thought she might want to become a veterinarian. But then, after taking a course with William Sobczak, associate professor biology and director of environmental studies, she became most interested in ecology, and she continued to pursue study in the field.

“Maddie has an advanced appreciation of how to apply her training in the sciences,” explains Sobczak. With this in mind, he urged her to apply for a position on the Polaris team. Taking his advice, LaRue applied and earned a position, marking her first time performing scientific fieldwork and her first experience with summer research.

In northeastern Siberia, LaRue resided near the town of Cherskiy, and was able to study microbial carbon cycling, which allows scientists to understand carbon degradation in nearby water supplies. While living on a barge on the Panteleikha River, LaRue worked and socialized with professionals in the field. “I was able to come up with my own research topic and 100 percent focus on that project and then get help from other researchers,” she says. “[We] became a family.” The team had only 25 members, and featured scientists who ranged from 20 to 65 years old. 

“It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” says LaRue, remembering the trip. “I got to study such an amazing ecosystem where not many people get to go, to see nature that’s unaffected by humans.”

Professor Sobczak echoes the importance of LaRue’s experience, saying, “The Siberian Arctic is an area that is rarely studied. Contemporary undergraduate education in the sciences rarely examines this portion of the planet, [so] it’s important to have education and outreach initiatives for the public.” 

Understanding that the relationship between scientific research and public awareness is key, LaRue is a member of the Biology Society here on the Hill. Furthermore, as co-chair intern of Eco-Action, a group that promotes environmentalism at Holy Cross, she works to organize important events and activities.

LaRue hopes to continue her work as a scientist, as she plans to study abroad in Costa Rica in the spring. She looks forward to comparing the two ecosystems—the tropics and the tundra—and in the future, she hopes to attend graduate school in order to receive a Ph.D. in ecology.

Supported by the Woods Hole Research Center, which is located in Falmouth, Mass., the Polaris Project has also been funded by the National Science Foundation since 2008. Robert Max Holmes, the lead principal investigator for the project, will be speaking on campus Nov. 1.

For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.

| More
Tags
Categories
Biology, Biology news, News

Comments are closed.

Sort By:
or
03/27/15 Holy Cross Announces Holy Week and Easter Services
03/27/15 Women’s Lacrosse To Hold Think Pink Game On March 28
03/27/15 PayScale Ranks Holy Cross No.6 Among Best Liberal Arts Colleges for Best ROI
03/26/15 ‘Renovated Fitchburg Art Museum vows visitors will be impressed’
See All
See All

Featured Videos

See video
Holy Cross Launches Groundbreaking Web Resource for Exploring Catholic Practice Around the World

Watch Video >
See video
Video, Photo Gallery: Christmastime at Holy Cross is a Sight to See

Watch Video >
See video
Video: What is CreateLab?

Watch Video >
More

What’s Happening on Campus

04/08/2015

Vannicelli Lecture by Jacob Medina '16

See More >
04/10/2015

A Seussebration: Hats Off to 111 Years of Dr. Seuss

See More >
04/15/2015

Lunch & Learn: LGBTQ Safe Zone

See More >
04/17/2015

'Libertad' performed by The College Choir and Chamber Singers

See More >
More

Holy Cross in the News

03/19/15

‘The 50 Best Private Colleges for Earning Your Degree On Time’

Money

According to Money, a subsidiary of TIME.com, the College of the Holy Cross ranks No. 12 in the top 50 best private colleges for earning your degree on time and No. 101 for...

03/04/15

‘At Notre Dame, a door closes, but many more are opening across Catholic higher ed’

Wall Street Journal | The Conversation

Joanne Pierce, professor of religious studies at College of the Holy Cross and a University of Notre Dame alumna, reflects on the legacy of Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, president...

02/18/15

‘Exploring an Institution’s Roots: Board Members Walk in a Saint’s Footsteps’

Trusteeship Magazine

In the January/February issue of Trusteeship Magazine, Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president of the College of the Holy Cross, reflects on the pilgrimage he led with a...