Biology students to study in Alaska

By Autumn Keiss

Olivet’s biology department is beginning a new program that will allow students to spend two weeks studying in Alaska.

Both biology and zoology students can receive credit for the two-part course. Biology students will receive ecology credit, and zoology students can count the course as field experience.

The first part of the program is a theory class, which will begin after spring break. The class will meet once a week for one or two hours, and will end before Easter, said Leo Finkenbinder, visiting biology professor and one of the organizers of the program.

“We’ll approach it as an ecosystem analysis,” Finkenbinder said. “We’ll look at the different biomes, and ask why they are there.”

The hands-on portion of the class will begin June 5 in Anchorage, Alaska. While in Alaska, students will search for walruses, whales and seals, take samples of krill from the Chucki Sea and travel further north than the Arctic Circle.

“Most arctic biology field trips don’t go that far north,” Finkenbinder said, “but we want to get on true tundra. It’s the coldest plant environment in the world.”

 The program may include visits to the Alaska SeaLife Center, the Cape Krusenstern National Monument and the Noatak National Preserve.

The cost of tuition, travel and meals for the course will not exceed $3,500, Finkenbinder said.

Anyone interested in attending should contact Finkenbinder by email at or by phone at 815-928-5696.

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