Alaska marmot
The Alaska marmot at Slope Mountain
in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range.
Photo by Dave Robichaud.

This column is provided as a public service by the Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska Fairbanks, in cooperation with the UAF research community. Ned Rozell is a science writer at the institute.

One million dollars or a summer in the hills chasing Alaska marmots? Not many people have to make this choice, but Aren Gunderson is not like most people.

Gunderson, 27, lives in Fairbanks, in a cabin with no running water. He is tall, athletic, adventurous, and probably would do well on the reality television show Survivor, where contestants test their tenacity and social skills on a tropical island. The last person standing gets $1 million.

Upon the urging of his sister, Rane Cortez of Washington D.C., Gunderson, a student working on a master’s degree from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, made an audition video for the producers of Survivor.

In his three-minute film, the shaggy-haired Gunderson is seen dog mushing and, with his snow-covered outhouse as a backdrop, ranting as to why he needs a million dollars.

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