Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
SAF Archives  search ask the scientists in the classroom cool science
scientists from previous shows
cool careers in science
ask the scientists

Photo of Brigitta Ahman BIRGITTA AHMAN

Birgitta Ahman is a senior scientist in the Reindeer Husbandry Unit at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. She received her B.Sc. in biology (including statistics, chemistry, animal physiology, ethology) from Uppsala University in 1975. During her studies there, Ahman first began her reindeer research by working (during holidays) on two projects -- one concerning forest management and reindeer pasture and the other related to feeding of reindeer and rumen function.

Ahman was employed at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in 1976, where she worked as an assistant for one of the scientists at the Department of Clinical Nutrition on a project dealing with skeletal development in cattle. She started her own research on the nutrition of reindeer, especially mineral deficiencies, in 1983. Besides research, her work has included teaching at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Faculty of Agriculture.

The project on mineral deficiency in reindeer was interrupted because of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, when all efforts were directed at solving the problems caused by the radiocesium fallout. This led to Ahman's dissertation in 1994, on a thesis named "Radiocaesium in reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) after fallout from the Chernobyl accident."

After earning her Ph.D. Ahman continued the research on radiocesium in reindeer. Her present work includes the project in the Jiingevarie Reindeer Herding District (where this episode of Frontiers was filmed), which is conducted in cooperation with the National Defence Research Establishment, Umea, and deals with the transfer of radiocesium from pasture to reindeer (and via reindeer meat to man).

Since January 1997 Ahman has been employed by the Reindeer Husbandry Unit at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Besides the research on radiocesium and reindeer, she is involved with projects concerning nutrition and feeding of reindeer. Another part of her work is acting as consultant for official authorities and on reindeer husbandry issues related to radioactive contamination of reindeer. Teaching is also an important part of her work.

See Birgitta Ahman's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.