Alina and her Swiss boyfriend Boris were in Alaska and the Yukon for nearly seven weeks, but I didn’t get a chance to meet up them until they day left town. And that wasn’t because I have a busy schedule. It was the other way around. When we met for lunch, we talked adventure.
Alina and Boris had packed in the experiences over the past several weeks. They spent time at a family cabin in Talkeetna, floated the Gulkana and visited Denali National Park to name a few. Their adventures even entailed purchasing a used inflatable canoe that Boris packed multiple hours (uphill) to various put-in locations.
Alina defended her PhD at Hedmark University of Applied Sciences in Norway in March of 2016. This is her second doctorate degree; her first was in veterinary medicine.
Alina and Boris live in Evenstad, a five hour drive north from Oslo. The couple makes up four percent of the town’s population of 43. But, 43 isn’t really a fair number since 200 students attend Hedmark, the local university.
“It’s our claim to fame,” laughed Boris. “We have the biggest student to inhabitant ratio of any college town in the world.”
I asked how Alina was able to find a house in such a small town. “Oh, someone sells a house every couple of years,” explained Alina. “When a professor moved, I bought her house.”
Alina and Boris plan to stay in Evenstad for at least the next two and a half years. Alina is contracted to study the moral implications of using large dogs to hunt moose. More specifically, she’ll be researching the affect of the lengthy chase on the moose’s heart rate and physiology.
In addition, Alina teaches a masters class on the capture of Scandinavian animals at Hedmark–the class is taught in English–and works as a veterinarian for a number of research groups (beaver, moose, bear, wolverine and wolves).
Boris is studying predator response in sheep. The goal is to develop sensors that let farmers know when their sheep are frightened (when a wolf attack is imminent, for example). “Research gives us a lot of flexibility, which we love,” said Alina. “It allows us to get out and enjoy the outdoors and even return to Alaska to visit.”
Alina Evans calls Norway home for now. Inside the bags are wolverine cubs which were captured alive so they can be fitted with tracking devices to study movement, body temperature, etc.
Boris and Alina give a family of brown bears the reversal drugs so that they will wake up after getting GPS collars, heart rate and body temperature loggers.