If you measured our expedition based on achievements alone, we had an incredibly successful eight weeks together. In that short time, our team accomplished:
- Thousands of Worms Collected
- Worm DNA collected and prepared for analysis
- Live worm cultures established
- Temperature Experiments Begun
- Live worm culture shipped and established back in the lab in Delaware
- Over 100 dives logged underwater
- More than 10,000 photos taken above the ice
- More than 300 underwater photos
- Hundreds of minutes of underwater video
- Over 70 journals with over 500 photos
- 22 on-line sessions with students & teachers
What is much more difficult to quantify will be the lasting effects of this experience. I knew coming into this expedition that I would leave it a very changed teacher and person. While all of that is true, I wasn't prepared for how changed. I leave the ice excited to return to the classroom and to find more ways to share this experience with students. I can't wait to have students help with the analysis of the photos and video that we have captured.
More than that, you can't put a price on all the memories we have made, new friendships formed, and the journey that we have all shared together.
The Journey is Far From Over
A lot of people have asked us, "What's next?" That's really the beauty of this experience and science in general - it's always moving forward. I don't really look at this as the end, but rather the closing of a introductory chapter. This is really more of a start. We will continue posting journals about how the project is moving forward, but here's a look ahead.
- Temperature experiments continue until mid-November
- DNA sequenced and data analyzed (late 2011-2012)
- Underwater photos & video analyzed (late 2011-2012)
- Students helping us to look at all the data we collected (2011-2012)
Dr. Marsh and I will be working closely together in the months ahead to bring the team's research to students. I could not be more excited about that part of the adventure!
As we wrap up the Antarctic field season for our expedition, I would be gravely mistaken to not say thanks to a great many people who made this all possible. First, thank you to Dr. Adam Marsh, Dr. Stacy Kim, Stephanie Guida, and Annamarie Pasqualone. I cannot tell you how many times I said, "I have just one more question for you." or "Can you pose for this photo?" or "I would like to do a live event at 3 AM. Are you available?" The research team was simply the best. I could not have asked for better people to work with - thank you so much for letting me be a part of the team.
Second, thanks to the Dive Locker staff: Rob Robbins, Steve Rupp, and Brenda Konar. As always, the Dive Locker was generous with wisdom, laughter, and tremendous diving. I have not worked with a finer group of people and we owe you a public thanks for that!
Next, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of my friends at Millsboro Middle School, and especially on the Journey team. I am indebted to everyone who helped our science classes run smoothly in my absence. A special thank you to Mrs. LouAnn Hudson, Mr. Brad Breasure, Ms. Clarissa Stevenson, and Mr. Vincent Colombo.
A very special thank you is due to my wife, Alli. None of this would have been possible without her love, support, and encouragement. You are the best! Thanks to all of our family who supported us and shared in the experience.
Finally, a huge thank you to Janet, Sarah, Ronnie, and Zeb, the PolarTREC staff. These are the people behind the scenes who make PolarTREC work. From the training I received at orientation to the support in preparing for the expedition, to the magic of the Live Events, this is by far the most rewarding professional experience I have ever been a part of - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.