Diana Wall first came down to the ice in 1989 to study nematodes in Antarctic soils. At the time, no one thought that anything was living in the Dry Valley soils – they were dry, salty, and no plant life could be seen – how could animals be living belowground? That year, Diana came to Antarctica with her colleague, Ross Virginia (Dartmouth College), on a grant to explore those supposedly “sterile soils”. And they found nematodes! Diana said that they had a two-year grant for their study, but at the time they did not know if they would get a second field season. Successfully finding the nematodes living in the cold, dry desert soils was a major feat and paved the way for the next two decades of Antarctic research.

When McMurdo Dry Valleys joined the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research network five years later in 1993, Diana was one of the founding Principal Investigators (PI) on the project.

The 2014-2015 Soils Team in front of the Crary Lab loading dock. (Top row (Left to right): Ruth Heindel, Ashley Shaw, Tandra Fraser, Jess Trout-Haney; Front row (left to right): Eric Sokol, Andy Thompson, Berry Lyons, Diana Wall, Byron Adams, Matt Knox, and Zach Aanderud). Photo: Kathy Welch

The 2014-2015 Soils Team in front of the Crary Lab loading dock. (Top row (Left to right): Ruth Heindel, Ashley Shaw, Tandra Fraser, Jess Trout-Haney; Front row (left to right): Eric Sokol, Andy Thompson, Berry Lyons, Diana Wall, Byron Adams, Matt Knox, and Zach Aanderud). Photo: Kathy Welch

For 25 years, Diana has shared her Antarctic experiences and science with numerous fellow researchers, students and postdocs. Many things have changed over the years. Diana says, “The Crary lab facilities are fantastic for polar research compared to the old Bio Lab. The field camps for science have improved our ability for real time measurement of biodiversity. And, after all, the Coffee Bar is a GREAT improvement over the old, smoky Officers’ club!”

Celebrating Diana’s 25th year on the Ice! Photo: Byron Adams

Celebrating Diana’s 25th year on the Ice! Photo: Byron Adams

This year we celebrated Diana’s 25-year anniversary of working in Antarctica! Berry Lyons (Ohio State University) arranged for a cake, got us all organized (that’s a magnificent feat in itself), and we surprised Diana with a celebration in the Crary Library. Congratulations, Diana!

Written by: Ashley Shaw

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