There’s camping, then there’s Alaska back-country, grizzly bear scientific research camping.

Woman tending to a sedated bear in a meadow surrounded by mountains.
Erlenbach takes a blood sample from a bear in Alaska.

That’s how Joy Erlenbach, a doctoral student in the School of the Environment, has spent the past three summers, and where she is right now.

“We get dropped off in the middle of Katmai National Park by a float plane, then we’re on our own for a month,” Erlenbach said before she left this year.

No showers, only one other person to talk to, and surrounded by beautiful mountains, rivers, wildlife and waterfront. Oh, and bears. Plenty of bears.

“We’ve got two tents, surrounded by an electric fence, with maybe 20-30 bears in the meadow right outside the tent,” she said. “You can’t let your guard down. I mean, bears aren’t there to get you, but you have to always be aware of your surroundings.”

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