I arrived in Umea on the 27th of July, straight from Minneapolis via Chicago and Stockholm. Unfortunately, the flight to Umea from Stockholm was cancelled, though Scandinavian Airlines provided a coach to drive the passengers on an 8 hour bus tour through Sweden. As I won't have time to travel much, I appreciated the access to scenery, at least for the first few hours. Zsofia Strangl, a Ph.D. student at the Umea Plant Science Center, and Vaughan Hurry, a PI of the lab I will be working in for August, kindly picked me up from the airport and got me settled. Umea is located at ~64 degrees north - similar to Anchorage, Alaska - and experiences very long days during the summer. Umea is a university town, usually housing over 30,000 students, though I am visiting during the summer session, so it feels pretty quiet.
The equipment took a few days to arrive, but was easy to set up the 3rd time around. I have access to a fully equipped lab space while I am here, complete with -80 freezer access, liquid Nitrogen, and compressed air, which were all difficult to come by in New York and Minnesota. The Umea Plant Science Center of Umea University houses many labs studying everything from senescence to N-cycling, from mutant strains to pine forests (see below). We also share a campus with the Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), whose main campus is in Uppsala. Despite it being the quiet season for students, there are many post-docs and graduate students hard at work (of course), and I've gotten to meet many people, and show off my experiments.
A majority of our sampling will take place close to, or on, campus, though some samples will be collected from experimental pine and spruce forests a bit afield. Below, you can see Zsofia sampling from a pine tree. Our plant samples will range from shrubs and understory plants to trees. Again, like in Minnesota, the boreal diversity is quite low compared even to the forest at Black Rock. This makes for easy identification, which I appreciate.
I've also had some time to explore Umea and enjoy some Swedish treats. The floating sauna, seen below, may be man's greatest achievement. We rowed out, and enjoyed a barbecue in between sweating and swimming. Zsofia and I also visited the Umea sculpture garden in Umeladen and joked about measuring some leaves on the birch tree growing through a bronze, seated man. On another trip...