Feyne Elmore needed some acid to clean her summer 2021 research project’s equipment. To get it, she had to give up a little blood.
Elmore, an undergraduate in ocean science, is investigating the sources of mercury in Alaska’s Kachemak Bay. She needed pristine equipment.
Elmore knows a UAF researcher who not only had hydrochloric acid on hand but also needed some blood to test for trace metals. A trade was proposed and Elmore’s finger was pricked.
“I’m paying for my acid in blood,” Elmore quipped.
Elmore, who grew up in Anchorage and Texas, wants to better understand a curious thing about Kachemak Bay’s water. Mercury in the water seems to come more from forested watersheds than glacial watersheds. As glaciers recede and forests take over, the mercury could increase.
Her work, funded by UAF’s Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Activity office, could help indicate whether toxic mercury might accumulate in the bay’s shellfish.
In March 2021, Elmore received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship. The prestigious award, which covers tuition and other expenses, went to just 410 people nationwide this year.
Meanwhile, Elmore’s day job on campus was caring for 275 lampreys held for research in large tanks. Wild lampreys migrate up Alaska’s rivers each fall — with an unusual approach. They don't eat. So she didn’t have to feed them.
“I just go in and make sure they aren’t dying,” she joked.
Elmore spent her childhood summers in Anchorage, where a major thoroughfare was named for her grandfather, Will Elmore. She would take annual trips to Seward to visit the Alaska Sea Life Center, adjacent to the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Science’s Seward Marine Center.
When the college’s state-of-the-art research vessel Sikuliaq arrived in 2015, she was in high school.
“I saw the Sikuliaq in Seward and I was like, ‘I want to do that. I’m coming to UAF,’” she said.