While running through Bicentennial Park in Anchorage, biologist Jessy Coltrane spotted a porcupine in a birch tree. On her runs on days following, she saw it again and again, in good weather and bad. Over time, she knew which Alaska creature she wanted to study.
“I thought, ‘Oh my god, how does he do it? How does this animal make it through winter?’” Coltrane said during the December defense of her doctoral thesis in Fairbanks. “It would be 20 below out and he’s there eating (bark).”