07/02 - Summer Expedition to Kazakhstan

NU Trip

Early this summer, eight U.S. scientists and students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska, Omaha and Texas Christian University joined for a trip to Almaty, Kazakhstan to present workshop on environmental chemistry and aquatic toxicology with scientists and students at Al Farabi Kazakh National University from June 3-4.

The workshop was followed by a four-day pilot project to Kazakhstan’s Syr Darya River watershed to collect fish tissue, water samples, sediment, and passive samplers to begin a multiyear study of the impact of past and present agricultural practices on fish species in this ecologically-stressed watershed.

The sampling expedition, including the U.S. team and 10 from Al Farabi Kazakh National University, began at the Shardara reservoir near the southern Kazakhstan border with Uzbekistan, and ended near Koksaray, about 465 miles upstream from where the Syr Darya enters the rapidly disappearing Aral Sea.

Helping lead this trip were Dan Snow, director of NU’s Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory (part of the Nebraska Water Center); UNO biologist Alan Kolok, who directs UNO’s Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory; UNL environmental engineer Shannon Bartelt-Hunt; and Marlo Jeffries, an environmental toxicologist and biologist at Texas Christian University in Dallas, Texas. U.S. students included two from UNL, Emily Hoehn and Brett Sallach, one from UNO Mariah Rakestraw, and Leah Thorton from Texas Christian University. 

Bolat Uralbekov, environmental chemist and head of the Department of General and Inorganic Chemistry at Al Farabi Kazakh National University, provided student, technical and logistical support for both the workshop and field expedition.  

Trip expenses were paid for from a grant to UNL from National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Catalyzing New International Collaborations (CNIC) program. The trip is one of an ongoing series of academic, research and student exchanges between the University of Nebraska and Al Farabi Kazakh National University. 

The Republic of Kazakhstan, once part of the former Soviet Union, is located in Central Asia, with its smaller part west of the Ural River in Europe. It is the world's largest landlocked country.

Pictured (from left) are Snow, Rakestraw, Sallach, Uralbekov,  Hoehn, Thorton, Jeffries, Kolok, and Bartelt-Hunt (photo courtesy of Shannon Bartelt-Hunt).