Editor's note: This is the first of a series of columns from former YME student and A/T student intern, Isak Kvam, that will appear in coming issues of the A/T.
As a 2011 graduate of YME, I've been attending Luther College for two years now with a double-major in Biology and Environ-mental Studies/ Geology. One of the benefits of this area of study is that there is no short supply of interesting and exciting summer internships for students my age. After talking about options with what opportunities I could have for this summer, my advisor at school recommended Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, a remote field station near Crested Butte in Colorado.
After some quick research and applying, I was ecstatic to learn I would be joining 37 other undergraduates in studying ecology and conducting independent research at the station for 10 weeks.
Rocky Mountain Bio-logical Laboratory, or RMBL, is situated at 9500' above sea level in the old mining town of Gothic. The slopes of the mountain reminded miners of large buttresses common in Gothic architecture of Europe, which gives the town and the mountain their names. In the 1870s, miners travelled up the mountain to mine for silver; unfortunately, the mountain did not hold as much as workers had hoped, and by the 1890s the town had become deserted. Shortly afterwards, scientists bought the land in the 1920s to convert the town into a field station, complete with cabins, a cafeteria, and research stations for biologists around the world to use for study and experimentation.
This summer, RMBL has 38 undergraduates taking ecology classes and conducting research, 50+ senior scientists conducting research, along with 1-2 graduate students per senior scientist. All in all, there are around 150 scientists staying at RMBL this summer. But don't worry — I'm not the only Minnesotan! One woman is a student from the University of Minnesota Morris and is working at RMBL for the summer — not only that, but she also played in Symphonic Winds at Morris with my sister Molly and Granite Falls native Michael Gill. Small world! Anyways, I will be studying Methods in Field Ecology as well as researching how variables like moisture and snow melt affect plant function. We'll get more into the details of that as I become more immersed into the I left Granite Falls around 5:00 Sunday to catch a flight from Sioux Falls to Denver with enough sunscreen to outfit a large albino family. From Denver I took several greyhound busses for about 6 hours of riding until I ended up in Gunnison, Colorado. Along the way, I started to recognize more and more people my age carrying tents or large hiking bags — they had to be other RMBL students. After bouts of conversation with interludes to gaze at the mountains and their vegetation that contrasts with the Southwest Minnesota prairie we're all used to, I soon learned that this would be a diverse experience with students from Boston, California, South Carolina, Arizona, and all over the US. We arrived on site around 10 pm where my three roommates and myself were given a small wooden cabin. Before heading to bed, we stopped to gaze at the many stars of the Milky Way that lit the outlines of mountains in every direction, promising a compelling summer to come.