So sophomore Kathryn Stutz also received an AHSS Summer Research Award. My usual summary: as you many know, the University of Puget Sound offers students competitive Summer Research Awards. These awards, varying from $3250 to $3750, allow students to pursue an in-depth research project over the summer months. Several students in the department were successful this year, and I’ve asked each to tell us a little bit about what they’ll be doing with their time, energy, and stipend monies in the coming summer. Here’s what Kathryn had to say about her project:
This summer, I will be working with a collection of archival material from our university’s Slater Museum of Natural History. These letters, biological records, and other historical documents center around a significant event in the history of the modern environmental movement: the development and eventual rejection of ‘Project Chariot,’ a proposal by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to use nuclear blasts to create a harbor in northern Alaska.
Members of the native Alaskan communities, as well as several of the scientists hired by the AEC to conduct the Cape Thompson Environmental Impact Report, found ethical, ecological, and health-related objections to Project Chariot. I’ll be using anthropological and historical analysis to look at the interactions between the AEC leadership, the scientists, the US government, the media, and the native Alaskan communities, to see how Project Chariot fits into the social, political, and scientific context of the United States during the early 1960s. In particular, I will be examining the perspective of Murray Johnson, an adjunct professor of biology at the College of Puget Sound during the 1950s and 1960s, who organized the marine mammal research team for the AEC’s Environmental Impact Report, and how his political and cultural views impacted his relationships with the other people and communities impacted by Project Chariot.
What a fascinating project, Kathryn — one that’s interestingly interwoven with our university’s history, and one that takes the anthropological/sociological toolkit into a conversation with other disciplines. Good luck! We’re excited to hear about what you find.