After four years in Maine, Maeve McGovern ’14 is going north. Very far north.
A native of Stowe, Vt., McGovern was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study Arctic marine ecology in Norway. She will spend the entire academic year, from August 2014 to June 2015, north of the Arctic Circle.
McGovern majored in biology and art at Colby and graduated cum laude with distinction in both majors. Beginning in August she will enroll in a master’s program at the University of Tromsø in Norway. She’s joining the Marine Night Research Project, a venture dedicated to furthering understanding of processes that occur in Arctic waters during the polar night.
Research cruises to the world’s northernmost community will allow McGovern to collect data on the midnight-sun and polar-night phases of the Arctic winter.
At Colby her study of biology had a strong emphasis on ecology, preparing her for the upcoming year. She spent a semester in the archipelago of Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic during her junior year and then spent the fall of her senior year in the Colby program at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine.
In Norway next year McGovern will focus on hyper-benthic food webs in the high Arctic and how their composition and structure change as the sun drops below the horizon. “This research should provide insight into how the movement of carbon through the ocean is influenced by the dramatic seasonality of the high Arctic, where the sun stays below the horizon for four months of the year,” she wrote in an e-mail.
She will spend the fall semester in Longyearbyen, a small town on the island of Spitsbergen, studying at the University Centre in Svalbard—at 78 degrees north, the northernmost institution for higher education and research. Research cruises to Ny-Ålesund, the world’s northernmost community, will allow McGovern to collect data on the midnight-sun and polar-night phases of the Arctic winter. She plans to spend the spring semester at the University of Tromsø.
McGovern, one of seven children, was a varsity cross country, Nordic skiing, and outdoor track team member at Colby. In 2012 she won the Leadville Silver Rush, a 50-mile race all more than two miles above sea level. In addition to her academic research, McGovern wrote, “I hope to learn Norsk, join the mountain running and skiing communities in Longyearbyen and Tromsø, knit at least ten sweaters, hike as much as possible, and soak in the outdoor and environmentally minded culture of Norway.”