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UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield Hall 218
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
Geography Faculty Member Earns
$1.675-Million Research Grant
phone (715) 836-4741
fax (715) 836-2900
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MAILED: Feb. 11, 2000

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Garry Running, assistant professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, is one of seven investigators who has been awarded a $1.675-million ($2.5 million Canadian) grant to continue research in Canada. The project, titled "Changing Opportunities and Challenges: Local-Scale Human-Environment Interaction in the Canadian Prairies Ecozone," will be funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada — Major Collaborative Research Initiatives Program.
The grant will provide $335,000 each of the next five years for Running and four UW-Eau Claire students to join the six other Canadian investigators and their teams. They will study localities in the Canadian Prairie Ecozone that exhibit exceptional physiographic and ecological diversity. Work will be conducted in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba and will focus on dune-dominated landscapes, floodplains of glacial meltwater valleys and bedrock-controlled glacial uplands.
Running notes that unlike typical grants awarded in the United States, indirect costs — such as faculty stipends, taxes and other administrative expenses — are negotiated after the grant is awarded, so the full $1.675 million will be available to the research team.
"We put together a strong proposal that showed a strong commitment to both First Nations participation and interdisciplinary research," Running said. "We are pleasantly surprised actually because the review committee included nobody with expertise in anything close to archaeology, geography or even ethnohistory."
Running has worked with several UW-Eau Claire students in southwest Manitoba the last two summers. Past research has been directed toward reconstructing the last several thousand years of landscape evolution and environmental change in the dune-dominated Oak Lake Sand Hills, one of the areas to be studied in detail over the next five years.
Work done in the past two years was a pilot project for the geoarchaeological portion of the research to be conducted over the next five years. Differential tuition paid the research costs for the previous two years.
"We would not have received this grant without the pilot project and without the financial support made possible by UW-Eau Claire differential funds," Running said. "Everybody on this grant thanks UW-Eau Claire students for funding faculty/student collaborative research through differential tuition."
This project expands on work previously conducted in southeast Manitoba to include four locations in three provinces. Research will concentrate on five "time slices": 500, 1500, 3000, 6000 and 9000 years ago. The research team will try to understand human-environment interactions in these places over time. To do this, the team will have to understand the cultural and physical landscapes of the areas as they changed through time.
Running and the UW-Eau Claire students will be a big part of the geoarchaeological component of the research that includes paleocologists, sedimentologists, geographic information systems and cartography specialists, as well as geomorphologists and soils people.
"Students who work with me over the next five years will have the same or better opportunities to study real work world research problems (than in past years)," Running said.
Students will work with Running and the other faculty, graduate and undergraduate students in support of the main project objectives, as well as select their own piece of the project to work on individually. The students involved will plan their involvement in the study, gather the data in the field and write the results, Running said.
Running said he can see this project expanding over the next five years to include people from other areas of science, such as plant biologists and sedimentologists.
"I'm projecting that in the future, this will be something we can build on, not only the geography department, but the university as a whole," Running said.
The grant money will support all aspects of the field work and will include the purchase of a new Geoprobe drill rig, two global positioning systems, travel around study sites and a host of laboratory analyses that will be used to reconstruct paleoenvironmental conditions through time.
Running said he anticipates UW-Eau Claire participation in this project will open doors and provide geography faculty more opportunities to acquire additional equipment for UW-Eau Claire students to use in research projects.
"I think our students deserve the opportunity to learn using state-of-the-art field equipment, and I think our participation in the project will show we are worthy of the investment that kind of equipment entails," Running said.
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UWEC [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 218
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: Feb. 11, 2000