July 28, 2011

Donie Bret-Harte represented the Toolik management team.  Chad Diesinger, Station Manager, attended.

Comments from PIs around the time of the User Forum:

George Kling expressed concern that NSF is funding new projects that compete with projects run by long-time TFS investigators.  He suggested that a science coordinating committee could reduce duplication of research efforts. 

Comments received at the User Forum:


Marjan van de Weg commented that there was not enough communication between the LTER PIs and the long-term summer residents of Lab 2 regarding what to expect when the personnel for two large “plucks” arrived at TFS.  This was disruptive to the work of the long-term residents in lab 2.  This comment was passed on to the LTER following the User Forum.

Thom Walker commented that the two science journalists currently at TFS came without any preparation being made for them that was communicated to TFS management.  In the past, when the MBL held their journalism course, there was a clear point of contact.  Now it is not clear who is in charge, and the journalists do not seem to have much information about who to talk to.  It was suggested that the MBL could prepare an information kit for journalists for future years.

Food service:

Peter Ray commented that the serving lines at dinner are very long now that we are in the peak season.  Would it be possible to serve from both sides of the hot line?  Thom Walker commented that several other people have suggested this, also.  This presents some problems for the cooks when they are changing pans in the hot line, but the serving units were designed for serving on both sides.  Jake Schas commented that they serve on both sides of the hot line in Antarctica, and it is not a big deal.  Peter Ray commented that it defeats the design of the serving area if the lines get too long.  After the User Forum, the change to serve on both sides of the hot line was implemented by the kitchen staff.

Infrastructure and Furniture:

Greg Selby commented that the Moore group’s lab space is scattered around camp.  He doesn’t mind working in a tent part of the time, but requests that they have a white tent, rather than their current green one, for work that involves reading samples under the microscope, as the green light makes it difficult to see what needs to be seen. 

Amanda Kolz requested that some clean furniture be provided for the isotope-free lab trailer.  It is a very small space, but at present there are no chairs or other furniture in there.  The bench space is also very small.  Because the isotope-free trailer is so small, it is difficult to get much furniture into it.  However, some chairs at least will be provided.  The solution to the small bench-top space is a new hard-sided lab that could be designated as isotope-free space.  This will not happen in the near future, but hopefully within the next few years, as NEON comes to Toolik. 

It was suggested that questions about the need for isotope-free space, and whether you plan to use stable isotope tracers, be added to the reservation system.  It would be nice to separate the labelers and the isotope-free folks more completely.

Jake Schas requested that a stile (stair crossing) be installed over the utilidor near lab 4, and also near the north end of wet lab to access the meteorological station.  Peter Ray suggested that it would also be nice to have a stile over the utilidor at the gravel path that leaves near the shower module and heads over the residence side of camp.  These requests will be addressed in the CPS fall campaign. 

There was discussion of the planned realignment by the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) of the Dalton Highway just south of TFS, from mile 274-282.  The plan is for DOT to align 30% of the section this year, and 70% next year.  This work will cause delays in travel between TFS and Fairbanks.  No parking will be allowed in the construction zone, which may impact researchers who access field sites from this stretch of the highway.  The realignment will also result in the grade of the road being elevated considerably above its current grade, which will make some of the pull-outs that are currently used by researchers accessing field sites along the I-series lakes inaccessible.  The TFS GIS Department will make a map showing the impacted areas to share with the research community. 

There was discussion about the proposed road to Umiat, which is now in the EIS phase.  There were no new updates.  Larry Levin shared that oil leases near Umiat have been purchased.

Common use equipment:

Greg Selby suggested that more microscopes (both dissecting and compound) would be nice.  The Moore group’s microscopes in lab 4 are frequently loaned out to other groups and are essentially used as common-use equipment.  Amanda Koltz suggested that an additional light source for the dissecting microscope is also needed, as TFS owns one more microscope than light source.  We offered to have the Moore group’s microscopes serviced the next time that the TFS microscopes are serviced, and this offer was appreciated.  The microscopes will be serviced in the spring of 2012. 

Quality of life issues:

Faye Ethridge asked if the smell that was noted at the first User Forum meeting this year was still noticeable.  Peter Ray and Thom Walker still notice it intermittently.  Thom has smelled it in the afternoon, so it is not due to the aerator on the kitchen waste tank.  Larry commented that the composition of the waste water in the kitchen tank has changed since the new kitchen/dining hall began operations.  Marjan van de Weg commented that she has noticed a bad smell in the sinks on the trailer side of the shower module.  Larry commented that the heat-trace may have been left on, resulting in the traps drying out.  Faye will look into this.

Comments from the suggestion box:

  1. When Thom is serving as camp manager, he is rarely available in the morning before people go into the field, which is a problem if one needs to check out a firearm.  This provoked lively discussion.  Thom works long hours in the evening, and prefers not to start working before 8:30 am.  Chad is usually available by 8 am.  It was suggested that perhaps an FOA could be assigned to an early shift (starting earlier, ending earlier) or perhaps Maintenance could have access to the firearms, as their staff is always there early in the morning.  It was agreed that the Camp Manager would establish early morning office hours a few days a week. 
  2. Many suggestions were received about food, some of them more substantial than others.  These were passed on to the cooks.
  3. Thanks for having a suggestion box.

Persons who attended or provided comments afterwards:

Colin Edgar
Faye Ethridge
Larry Levin
George Kling
Amanda Koltz
Jennie McLaren
Jonathan Perez
Peter Ray
Robin Rauch
Rod Simpson
Jake Schas
Greg Selby
Marjan van de Weg
Thom Walker