Everyone is back, after a long delay. Ed and Breana managed to leave the ice in mid-February, and after brief holidays in New Zealand (Breana) and Australia (Ed), they are back in Colorado, and working hard.

In the past few months, our lab community has changed. Sanjay accepted a job in Denver, and Karen, a PhD student from Washington, has joined our group. Also in the lab are Sarah Atheron, an undergraduate honors student working on an ahydrobiosis project, and Lauren Larson, an undergraduate pre-vet student who takes care of our nematode cultures. Grace Li is the manager of our brand new lab in the Biology Department. We christened the new lab by having a party for Biology and NREL faculty, staff and students.

While Ed and Breana were still in Antarctica, Diana flew to The Netherlands as a guest lecturer for a soil ecology course. She has since attended an advisory committee meeting of POPNet in York, England, and flew to Mexico to meet with with university officials in Yucatan to enhance collaboration with Colorado State University.

Our seminar series, “Antarctic Research and Colorado Front Range: A Celebration of the International Polar Year,” has been a huge success! Organized in honor of the IPY, each month we have invited a speaker to Fort Collins to give a public lecture on Antarctic research and life on the ice. These public lectures have been very well attended, and Diana gave the most recent lecture, on April 17th, entitled, “The Hot Scoop on Cold Soils; The Dry Valleys of Antarctica.”

Ed had two papers published, one in Functional Ecology entitled, “The influence of belowground herbivory and defoliation of a legume on nitrogen transfer to neighboring plants,” and one in Ecosystems entitled, “Unique similarity of faunal communities across aquatic-terrestrial interfaces in a polar desert ecosystem.” Diana, Jeb, Byron and Ross are co-authors on the Ecosystems paper.

Breana accidentally landed the job of chief-SIPer, after completing the SIP and submitting it to Raytheon without any troubles. SIP stands for Support Information Package, and it is a lengthy list our research intentions for the year and the materials we will need to do our research in Antarctica. The SIP must be turned in 8 months in advance, making it a very stressful but important document. Everything has to go on the SIP, from the number of helicopter hours we will use to the number of sleeping bags we need, and even the exact number of scintillation vials we think we will need. it’s hard to plan that far ahead, but the logistics of doing research in Antarctica demand it.

At the end of April, Diana, Ed, Breana, Karen, Byron and Jeb will attend the biennial Soil Ecology Society Meeting in Moab, UT. Breana, Jeb and several of Byron’s students will present posters about their research in Antarctica or on Antarctic organisms. Ed will present work he has done in the San Juan Mountains on forest soils. Accompanying us will be Phil Murray,; a soil ecologist from the UK. Diana, Phil, Breana, Ed and Karen will meet Jeb, Byron and his students in Arches National Park for a bit of camping before the meeting. One of Byron’s students, Adler Dillman, was part of our Antarctic team in 2005-2006, and we will be excited to see him again.

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