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Two students travel to peru on an expedition to research glaciers

August 16, 2016 by Jacki Klancher by Laura Phagan

two students in the snow near the mountains

When Lulu Kennedy and Alex Greenwald came to Central Wyoming College to study outdoor education under Associate Professor and National Outdoor Leadership School instructor Darran Wells, they were in for an adventure. What they didn’t know was how far the adventure would take them.

In August 2016, Kennedy and Greenwald will travel to Peru for their CWC capstone and final CWC experience before they start classes at the University of Wyoming. The bulk of their academic and field training to prepare them for this trip was attained through CWC’s academic programs and through the Interdisciplinary Climate Change (ICCE) Field Expedition which is led by Jacki Klancher, Darran Wells and Todd Guenther.

Through ICCE, and in partnership with the University of Wyoming’s Center for Environmental Hydrology (WYCEHG), Klancher forged an additional partnership with the American Climber Science Program (ACSP) and Dr. Carl Schmitt. Through this partnership Klancher and her students sample and analyze high elevation glaciers and permanent snow fields for evidence of black carbon.

This ultimately led to the invitation for Kennedy and Greenwald to join Dr. Schmitt and other researchers including doctoral students and professionals to Peru to conduct glacier and hydrology research in the Peruvian Andes.

This is an opportunity I could not ignore. Within three hours of hearing this might be a possibility, Carl Schmitt and I had met and started planning out the summer. ”

Alex Greenwald

They will be in Peru for more than 10 days and will apply mountaineering skills to high elevations where their research will be conducted on the Ausangate, near Cusco. The highest peak of Ausangate reaches an elevation of more than 6,000 meters.

Both students have been awarded funds for the Peru internship through the CWC Foundation.

“Finding the money to do these things is always the challenge; I will be working most of the summer for Jacki as part of an internship funded through the CWC Foundation and a couple of Jacki’s research grants,” Greenwald said.

Prior to their trip they will spend the summer working as field and research techs for Klancher. Greenwald and Kennedy will further synthesize and analyze ICCE data and will help with preparations for this year’s launch. ICCE is a scientific research expedition that receives additional funding through the WY NASA Space Grant Consortium and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).

The research project attracts students from CWC’s Archaeology, Environmental Science, Geospatial Information Science and Tech (GIST), and Outdoor Education programs, and includes several high elevation projects applicable to these fields of study. The 2016 ICCE expedition will start in August and will provide the infrastructure and leadership to allow 13 students to continue their research efforts on Wyoming’s Dinwoody Glacier.

 “It is hard to think about anything else,” Kennedy said. “I’m in the middle of a fairly serious program that is part of my scholarship right now. I need to focus on my internship but it’s hard to think of anything but this amazing experience. In the back of my mind I will be packing for Peru.”

“Alex and Lulu’s readiness for this trip is directly to two years of CWC academic prep, and the research and wilderness travel experience gained through ICCE undergraduate research,” Klancher said. “I’m confident these students are well prepared physically, mentally and academically for the adventure that awaits them.”