This year the Wormherders will be VERY busy – we’re collaborating with a New Zealand Biocomplexity project and this is expected to triple our workload. For this reason, our team is twice as big as last year, with several people headed to the Antarctic for the very first time. Here is the new team, assembled from researchers at three universities in two countries!

Bishwo Adhikari
Bishwo Adhikari
“I am a PhD student in the Department of Biology, and Evolutionary Ecology Laboratories, at Brigham Young University working with Dr. Byron J Adams. I am interested in nematode stress response mechanisms and I am using different molecular techniques to study how nematodes respond to different stresses, identify the genes playing major role during stress survival. As a part of my graduate research I recently characterized the suite of Plectus murrayi genes differentially expressed as it goes into anhydrobiosis. I am now conducting similar investigations into freeze tolerance. I have been working with Antarctic nematodes (mainly Plectus murrayi) since 2006 and am looking forward to my first season on the ice.”

Nick Demetras
Nick Demetras
“I work in Dr. Ian D. Hogg’s lab at The University of Waikato in Hamilton, NZ, where I have just completed my first year of graduate school. My research is focused on the the population genetic structure of the Antarctic Springtail Gomphiocephalus hodgsoni in the Dry Valleys. I will also be looking at soil nematode occurrence, distribution, and diversity and how that fits into the overall biocomplexity of the Dry Valleys as well. I am totally stoked to embark on my first Antarctic adventure.”

Uffe Nielsen
Uffe Nielsen
“I am a new Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Diana H. Wall’s lab at CSU. My research will mainly focus on the relationship between soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning using low diversity ecosystems, including the Dry Valleys in Antarctica, as model habitats. As this is my first year going to Antarctica I am very excited about this.”

Karen Seaver
Karen Seaver
“I work in Dr. Diana Wall’s lab at CSU, where I am in my second year of graduate school. My research uses genetic and molecular techniques to study the adaptations of nematodes to the extremely cold and arid soils of Antarctica’s Dry Valleys. Specifically, I study how nematodes survive periods of severe drought by entering a protective state known as anhydrobiosis. I am excited for my first Antarctic adventure!”

Tracy Smith
Tracy Smith
“I am a student working for Dr. Diana Wall at CSU and soon McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I am interested in studying how processes that take place within ecosystems are affected by human activity, and how changes in these processes can in turn affect human health and well-being. Antarctica is unique in that there is minimal direct human impact on these ecosystems, but we are seeing changes in how they function as a result of human impacts in other parts of the world and on global scales. I am excited to begin my research career in a place where you can ask these questions and uncover information that may help us to better protect our planet, and to have this rare opportunity to travel to the bottom of the earth!”

These researchers will join Old Antarctic Explorers Diana Wall, Byron Adams, and Breana Simmons in McMurdo this year. The 2008/2009 season is Diana’s 19th trip to the ice! This year, in addition to collaborating with the Kiwis (that’s what the folks from New Zealand are called) the Wormherders are looking forward to conducting new field research on Antarctic soil animals. We will continue to post information on our research and on Antarctic life in general from December 15th through February. We have asked several school groups to submit questions to our blog, and we will post answers from our lab in Antarctica!

If you are a public school teacher and would like for your students to participate, please contact Dr. Breana Simmons (breana@nrel.colostate.edu) for more information.

Advertisements