From left: Charles Umbanhowar Jr., Meg Ojala, Paul Jackson, Susan Olson, Annie Fedorowicz,
Katherine Huber, Allie Pyan, Rebecca Huncosky, Amanda Rubasch
Not pictured: Ilse Peterson, Noel Peterson

Annie Fedorowicz is from St. Paul, Minnesota. She is currently a Chemistry and Women’s Studies double-major at St. Olaf College. After her graduation in 2008, she hopes to find work in environmental chemistry or policy. For the project, Annie has focused on historical and current aspects of surface water quality. She has enjoyed field work and broadening her knowledge of waste contaminants found in southern Minnesota’s lakes and streams. Annie also has learned useful information, such as wood-tick gender identification and scientific names for prairie plants. She has enjoyed the historical aspect of the project because it reiterates the negative effects humans have on the environment, which she feels is important to share with the public. A favorite memory from the project is of trying desperately to keep a canoe stationary for sampling purposes during an extremely windy day.

Katherine (Kate) Huber lives in Northfield, MN. She will graduate from St. Olaf College in 2009 and is currently designing an independent major in Ecologically Sustainable Community Design. After graduation she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Landscape Architecture and to eventually help redesign global cities in a more sustainable manner. Throughout this project, Kate has concentrated on photography and historical and modern mapping, as well as other ways of visually representing landscape. Her interest in studying the Nicollet expeditions stems from a disappointment in the negative impacts humans have had on our environment since 1838 and her hope for a better future with more conscientious land-use. She has enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of this project and is excited that such a diverse group of people will be able to make use of the results. Her favorite memory from the summer is of fording and photographing the Cannon River at sunrise in Waterford, MN.

Rebecca Huncosky, originally of Madison, Wisconsin, is a Biology major with a concentration in Environmental Studies at St. Olaf College. Within the Nicollet project, Becky has focused on lake sediment core collection and analysis. Becky enjoys the interdisciplinary nature of the Nicollet project as well as its emphasis on the interplay between humans and nature and its potential to inform future restoration. Post-graduation in 2008, she hopes to spend a year teaching English abroad before attending graduate school for Environmental Education. Her favorite memory from the research project is of Allie finding the coring exhibit in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

Paul Jackson, a lifelong southeastern Minnesota resident, works in the Chemistry and Environmental Studies Departments at St. Olaf College. He teaches general, analytical, and environmental chemistry as well as introductory environmental science. Paul directs independent undergraduate research related to chemical profiling of freshwater habitats, determination of pharmaceutical related substances in surface waters, and incorporating green chemistry into the undergraduate science curriculum. The opportunity to examine water quality in an historic context drew Paul into the Nicollet project as well as a general curiosity about change--in particular, what this area was like prior to European settlement. He thoroughly enjoys the different perspectives each person brings to the project and covets the cool cameras the photographers get to use. The view of the Little Sioux River juxtaposed with walking through the prairie and “kettlehole” on the Freda Haffner Preserve southwest of Okoboji, in Dickinson County, Iowa is a treasured memory.

Meg Ojala, lives in Dundas, Minnesota. She teaches photography in the Department of Art and Art History at St. Olaf College. Meg photographs along the banks of the Cannon River near Northfield and in other natural and protected areas in southern Minnesota. She was drawn to Nicollet because of his unique appreciation of the prairie and his empathy for the Native Americans who lived in the Undine Region. She hopes to effectively reveal the often dramatic contrast between Nicollet’s 1838 description of particular sites and how they appear today. An illustration of this is the picture she made in July 2007 of a Cambodian monk taking a picture with his cell phone of a newly built Buddhist temple near the site of Nicollet’s Vermillion river crossing. Meg’s favorite memory of the summer is wading across the Cannon River at Waterford before sunrise with her co-researchers to make a panorama where Nicollet crossed in 1838.

Susan Olson, a native of Wisconsin, will graduate from St. Olaf College in 2008 with a major in Chemistry and a concentration in Environmental Studies. For the Nicollet research project, she has focused on several aspects of current and historical surface water quality. Susan was drawn to the landscape project because it gave her a chance to use chemistry in an environmental application as well as the opportunity to work with several other researchers on an interdisciplinary collaboration. After graduation, she hopes to pursue either graduate school or a professional career in a field that will enable her to use chemistry as a force for positive environmental change. Her favorite memories of the 2007 “expedition” include paddling a twelve-foot canoe in a parking lot storm water pond and inadvertently walking through a nest of wood ticks.

Ilse Peterson was born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Currently, she is pursuing majors in Chemistry, History, and Asian Studies at St. Olaf College. Ilse is especially excited about the Nicollet Project because of its interdisciplinary nature, which has enabled her to connect some of her diverse interests. Within the project, she will focus on several aspects of current and historical surface water quality. After her graduation in 2009, Ilse intends to spend a few years working or teaching abroad before returning to the U.S. for graduate school.

Noel Peterson was born in Hong Kong and lived there until coming to St. Olaf College, where he is currently a Mathematics major with concentrations in Statistics and Environmental Studies. After graduating in 2009, he hopes to go to graduate school for a degree in either GIS & Remote Sensing or Environmental Statistics. He is hoping to begin a career in a field where he will be able to actively help combat global climate change. As a teenager he picked up web design and photography as hobbies, and has enjoyed putting both skill sets to use for the Nicollet project.

Allie Pyan was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is currently a Biology major at St. Olaf College. After her graduation in 2009, she hopes to serve in the Peace Corps, and then eventually go to graduate school. She is very interested in the history of Minnesota, which fueled her interest in the project. Allie collected and analyzed sediment from lake cores for the project. She thoroughly enjoyed crawling for original specimens at the National Herbarium. One of her favorite memories is of Becky making up songs about the Kappabridge at the Institute for Rock Magnetism.

Amanda Rubasch spent most of her earlier years in and around Viroqua, WI, where she attended a life-inspiring Waldorf school. She moved near Decorah, IA during her high school years and then to Northfield, MN for her higher education at St. Olaf College. After graduating in 2009 with an Art Major and Environmental Studies concentration, Amanda plans to continue sharing her creative talents and environmental concerns with the ever-growing global society. Amanda became interested in the J.N. Nicollet research project because of the opportunity to combine her artistic skills with her interest in environmental issues. Playing a role as a landscape photographer, among other imaging and mapping aspects of the land, Amanda has become more observant of the landscape and changes to the landscape around her. She hopes that by sharing her knowledge gained from this project, others will also more closely look at the impact they have on future changes to the land. Amanda’s favorite memory is of visiting Wayne Feder, the life-loving owner of a blooming prairie near the city of Blue Earth, MN. This area growing with beauty reminded her that not all landscape change is negative and that positive land restoration is possible.

Charles Umbanhowar Jr., a long-time resident of the Northfield area, works in the Biology and Environmental Studies Departments at St. Olaf College. He teaches general biology, plant morphology & systematics, GIS & remote sensing, and introductory environmental studies. Trained as a plant ecologist at UW-Madison, in recent years Charles has focused on understanding long-term links between fire, climate, and vegetation in northern Manitoba and the Big Woods of Minnesota using lake sediments. The sediment cores collected in the project will add to 20 cores that he and his students have analyzed from southern Minnesota. His favorite memory from the project is of storms near Lake Okamanpeedan.