Steve Hageman, professor of geology in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, which is housed in Appalachian State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a 2018–19 Fulbright Scholar Program award to study the effects of global warming on marine polar Arctic organisms through the Institute of Oceanology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

“I am honored and grateful to be the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship this year. Many people do not realize that the Fulbright program is organized, administered and funded by the U.S. State Department,” said Hageman. “Fulbright’s primary mission is diplomacy, which happens naturally when people have the opportunity to get together to work toward solving a shared problem.”

Hageman also received a Fulbright award in 2006–07, which allowed him to work in marine and genetics labs in Croatia to learn new research methods in evolutionary biology and paleobiology.

He came to Appalachian in 1998 from the Field Museum in Chicago, Ill., where he was a research associate. He holds a bachelor’s in geology from the University of Kansas. His master’s and doctorate, both in geology, are from the University of Illinois.

According to Hageman, the effects of human-induced global climate change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions are now evident in most places on the planet. The polar Arctic — both land and sea — exhibits the most significant temperature increase as a result of this change, he said.

Scientists have long recognized Bergmann’s Rule, which states as average temperature increases, the body size of organisms decreases, Hageman said, although scientists don’t fully understand the causes of this relationship.

During the past 10 years, a team of Polish and Norwegian scientists with the National Academy of Sciences have collected and measured the size and shape of marine organism shells from the Arctic polar region.

Using this data, Hageman, a paleontologist, will bring the statistical methods he uses to distinguish between evolutionary and environmental changes in the size of fossil skeletons to inform the study of polar Arctic organisms.

He said the broader goal of the study is to document how the body size of Arctic marine organisms is changing in response to climate change that has already occurred and to determine if these relationships can be used as a proxy in future studies.

“By accounting for these complex relationships, researchers will then be able to more directly highlight the influence of temperature change on body size,” he said. “This may allow for the development of even more targeted questions about future impacts of human-induced climate change.”

For information about how to apply for faculty and staff Fulbright awards, as well as more information regarding international scholarship assistance, visit the university’s Office of International Education and Development.

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