The School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences' Daniel Schindler.
University of Washington
The School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences’ Daniel Schindler.

UW’s Alaska Salmon Program, headquartered at the College of the Environment, is made up of several remote field camps, and Lake Nerka is one of the more removed of those sites — accessible only by an hours-long boat ride or float plane. Every summer, Daniel Schindler, a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences, moves to Lake Nerka to guide students through their research.

The big-picture goal at the core of the Alaska Salmon Program, says Schindler, is to understand how the watersheds — some of the most pristine in the world — work. That way, they can prioritize which parts should be protected and conserved. From there, Schindler and his colleagues are able to gain insights into how to manage and restore systems that have been overrun by people.

“There are a lot of subtle processes that are still occurring naturally in Alaska that have simply been eliminated from human-affected watersheds across the world,” says Schindler. “It’s studies of intact watersheds like these that give clear insights into which aspects of the system should be restored and prioritized for protection.”

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