Courage Sacrifice Devotion
A few thoughts from the PI...
To the parents: An Antarctic field season can be an intense, close-quarters long run that will test even the most experienced and mature scientist. And, let me tell you, your kids have been incredible. They have worked tirelessly and have not only done themselves proud, but they have handsomely represented their country in a research project designed to understand our impact on the planet. Their time here has earned them the Antarctica Service Medal, something all U.S. civilian participants in the U.S. Antarctic Program receive with a certain amount of time on the ice.
Those of us who have been here many times (this is my 11th deployment) know that our time with people here is special, that we see them do things that we know the people they love would love to see. In the span of a 2-month trip, there have been so many such moments, and there are not enough words to capture the true quality of the joyful mayhem of this season. But there are things I can tell you about your children.
We were led by the larval biology expertise of Dr. Pauline Yu, our postdoc and the OPP NSF Postdoctoral Fellow. Pauline never cracked, never lost her good humor and grace. Although she only weighs in at 1.5 survival bags, she is tough in the cold! Pauline showed us all something special as she put in untold hours at the microscope and in the larval lab. As Paul was quoted: Pauline is the brains of the operation, I just block the wind. As for Paul, he was our engineer, working to set up the CO2 system and juggle seawater chemistry and SeaFET operations in the field. He bore an enormous amount of responsibility as he was responsible for fabrications and equipment that had scary ‘single points of failure’. In the end, he ended up with all my French shackles….hmm. Emily was our highly skilled, detail-oriented bench scientist who worked tirelessly during the heart of the project. Without her time at the titrator and long hours in the lab, we never would have made it. Her dedication to the team project was inspiring; she does not quit. She also caused quite a stir at Karaoke night – we like talent in all forms! And then there is Lydia, our newest member of the lab who spent 7 days in Santa Barbara before being shipped out to McMurdo Station. Forget worrying about grad school, kiddo! You have bigger problems! Lydia was our fabrication specialist and utility player, doing whatever task needed doing and pitching in at critical points in our experiments. Lydia shared her observations made with an eye of an artist and many times framed our experiences. As she would say to euphoric people: you are having an Antarctic moment.