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Inspiring Undergraduates and Investigating Glacier Recession in Peru’s Huascarán National Park

Posted: August 26, 2013
Graduate student Molly Polk, undergraduate Nicolas Montoya, and Dr.Young in Peru

Graduate student Molly Polk, undergraduate Nicolas Montoya, and Dr.Young in Peru

Professor Kenneth R. Young and graduate student Molly Polk helped lead a group of undergraduates into Peru’s Huascarán National Park this July. The special opportunity was made available through a Research Experience for Undergraduates initiative funded by Professor Young’s National Science Foundation Dynamics of Coupled Natural Human Systems grant. Together with his collaborators in the Transdisciplinary Andean Research Network (TARN), Professor Young is investigating the impacts of glacier recession on the Santa river watershed. Included in the group was Nicolas Montoya, a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin, who is a native of Lima, Peru. Nicolas will major in Economics and after his experience in the field with Professor Young, he now is looking for ways to incorporate geography and environmental issues into his curriculum. The experience sharpened Nicolas’s vision of how he can one day aid in developing the overall prosperity of the Andean community in Peru. He recognizes the value of his new academic network that he can tap into when he returns to Peru after graduation.

Nicolas says “I could not help but feel proud to be representing the University of Texas at Austin in such a unique program.  It was really an honor to interact with undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students from other universities around America, and to know their different interests.  It was certainly the first time I travelled around my country to look at it from a real academic perspective.”

 Students collect data on vegetation patterns in the Andes Mountains

Other undergraduate students hailed from Ohio State University, University of California Santa Cruz, University of Washington, and McGill University. They also participated in the Foro Internacional Glaciares in Huaraz, Peru, which was attended by 2000 people from 19 different countries.

Nicolas and his peers are contributing their impressions and recording their experiences on the TARN blog. Follow TARN on Twitter @TARNupdates. 

For more information about Dr. Kenneth R. Young and Molly Polk, please visit their faculty and graduate student profiles

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