Academy of Natural Science of Drexel University
Dr. Goulden is a limnologist and an aquatic ecologist; he studies the plankton of lakes. This may seem a bit strange because he was born and grew up in post-depression, “dust bowl” years of Kansas, a State not well known for its lakes. After undergraduate studies at Emporia State University, he received his doctorate at Indiana University studying the historical reconstruction of natural lakes by analysis of animal microfossils in sediments. At Indiana, he also began learning the Russian language. This was followed by a three year Post-Doctorate Fellowship working with G. Evelyn Hutchinson at Yale University, an individual recognized as the “inventor of modern ecology”. In 1965, Hutchinson encouraged Goulden to apply for a fellowship with the Cultural Exchange Program recently organized by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Sciences of the former Soviet Union and successfully received a fellowship. He spent most of 1966 working in Leningrad during the winter and on the Upper Volga River in the summer but also traveled to Lake Baikal in Siberia.
In 1994 he was invited to return to Siberia and Lake Baikal in part because of his knowledge of Russian. This trip included a visit to Lake Hövsgöl, an ancient lake poorly known yet part of the Baikal watershed in northern Mongolia. Mongolia had only recently in 1990 moved out of the Soviet economic and political block and was opening to the West. Western scientists had not previously studied Hövsgöl, other than short visits, and with support from the National Science Foundation he initiated a long term research program there with the help of Mongolian, Russian, Japanese, European and American colleagues, eventually receiving approval from the Mongolian government to list it as an International Long Term Ecological Research site. As early as the late 1990s it was evident that Mongolia’s climate was changing with warming already approaching 40 F. In 2001 he was invited by the Global Environment Fund and the World Bank to develop a proposal for research and a capacity building program at Lake Hövsgöl to train young Mongolians to study their environment and the changes resulting from climate warming. Eighteen young Mongolians were hired to study changes in the lake’s watershed for five years (2002-2006) and to prepare for graduate studies abroad in international universities. Twelve of these individuals have received their Ph.D. from U.S, Japan, German, and Russian universities, and have returned to Mongolia to teach in universities, or work with the national government’s efforts to study the impacts of climate change.
Between 2008 and 2012 Goulden continued efforts to learn more about Mongolia’s rapid climate warming and its impact of the environment by interviews with nomadic herders’ to learn of their perceptions of climate change and to test their observations by analysis of long-term meteorological records. This has led to his present research on changes in rains and increased thunderstorm activity and the impact on Mongolia’s environment.