Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Peering across the Equator

Special thanks to Alison Murray and Joey Grzymski for their diligent photo-doc!

In USAP parlance, it's PQd, as in, the United States Antarctic Program says that i am now physically qualified, and thus can deploy, as planned, from Punta Arenas, Chile on March 6, 2009. This trip feels - and will be - very different. Most obvious is the change in crew. The infamous derelict, coffee connoisseur to the point of absurdity, cosmobiologist and protein-folding specialist, Dr. Joey Grzymski (with me in the first photo) will not be joining us, and his absence is already palpable. Dan, Tuna, and Stephanie, our beloved compadres from the krill lab, are also not part of this journey, though we're all captured together (2nd photo: me, Tuna, Joey, Alison, Dan) from our last trip at Palmer Station, and in the third photo (Dan, Joey, Tuna, Steph, me), attending a "lab meeting" at our field office. Finally, we won't be at Palmer Station at all. We'll be sailing aboard the Nathaniel B. Palmer, Antarctica Research Vessel, ice-breaker, and iceberg chaser, as we hunt the riches in the mini-worlds that exist below the bergs. So no Palmer Station, no glacier hikes, no frisbee games, and, oh my, no PUB! It's true... the ship is alcohol-free.

Those of you who've followed our past adventures know that the illustrious, intrepid, tireless, relentless, and energetic microbial genomicist, Dr. Alison Murray (not to be confused with me) has tucked me under the wing of the Murray Field Team for two prior trips to Palmer Station and one sailing cruise on the Extreme 2004 Hydrothermal Vent Cruise, 300 miles from Costa Rica above the East PAcific Rise. I act as resident barrista, microbe culturer, bacterial DNA and RNA harvester, and any other task that is within my level of expertise. With Joey's fresh-roasted coffee beans and Chilean milk, I can whip up quite the mean cappuccino which, on our schedule, is a required nutrient in nearly hourly aliquots. So, I'm practising my Spanish and getting extra sleep, knowing full-well that the unspoken Murray Field Team motto, Numquam Dormiemus, will come soon. I'm envisioning my sea legs, humming the tune of the ship's engines, curling up into the amniotic slosh of the Antarctic's frigid -1.8C waters, and getting ready to learn. The crew, the destination, the means, and the mission may change, but one constant remains - the opportunity to learn. Check back in, as I'll be posting from our vessel as our mission progresses. But I'll leave you with some of the stunning scenery from our last trip to Arthur Harbor, home of Palmer Station.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can't say that I am jealous. Vicariously, though, I am enjoying the ride. Beautiful photos, inspiring enthusiasm- keep it up!