I am the National Science Foundation Representative, Palmer
Station, during the 1996-1997 summer season in Antarctica. In this
position, I'm responsible for the station and the implementation of
the US Antarctic Program in the Antarctic Peninsula. I began my
career in science as a university researcher; after ten years, I
moved to science administration at the National Science Foundation.
Most of the year, I work in Washington, DC in the Office of Polar
Programs at the NSF. I am the Program Manager for Polar Biology and
Medicine. My job is to read and review scientific proposals from
scientists who want to work in the biological sciences in
Antarctica. Then I decide which scientists will receive awards to
work in Antarctica. It's a big responsibility and I rely on advice
from other scientists in making my decisions. There are so many
excellent projects and never enough funds. I see my job as a
facilitator, helping scientists to be successful, either at the
proposal writing stage or in the implementation of a field program.
During the austral summer, I travel to one of the US stations. Here
the management of science is first hand. At Palmer Station, I
provide oversight and guidance, both in the operational and
scientific aspects of the station. The US Antarctic Program is too
complicated to manage long-distance from Washington, DC; this is
why I and my fellow science and operations program managers travel
to Antarctica every year.
Some personal background:
I became interested in the outdoors world during my childhood. My
parents took my sister, Sara (now a Science Librarian at Earlham
College) and I on walks through the woods in Missouri. My mother
taught us the names of the plants and birds; many happy hours were
spent looking and learning. While in high school, a favorite
science teacher told me about the National Science Foundation's
summer school program, now called the "Young Scholars" program. I
applied to study marine biology and spent six weeks at the Gulf
Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. We worked
in the laboratory and on a small research vessel in the Gulf of
Mexico. Here I developed a life-long interest in marine science,
but also was told, in all seriousness, by the ship's crew that I
couldn't be an oceanographer, because "women were bad luck on ships."
Luckily, I didn't pay attention to that!
At Earlham College, I majored in Biology and spent a summer
studying mollusc behavior in the Caribbean. My Master's and Ph.D.
degrees in Marine Science were earned at North Carolina State
University. My professors, Dr. John Hobbie, Dr. Gordon Thayer, and
Dr. B.J. Copeland, created a great sense of community among their
students. We were challenged to learn and encouraged to share, both
our in classwork and in the field. I spent two summers at Point
Barrow, Alaska where I did my Master's research on an arctic tundra
fish. My Ph.D. research on seagrasses was conducted in the Newport
River estuary on the coast of North Carolina. Post-doctoral
research led me to the University of Miami, where I continued
seagrass ecology research in subtropical oceans, and to Michigan
State University, where I was able to continue seagrass study in
the Caribbean. Before I came to the National Science Foundation, I
was a research faculty member at the Virginia Institute of Marine
Science, College of William and Mary and worked in Chesapeake Bay.
Throughout my career, I've been lucky to be able to combine my love
of ocean science with my love of travel. I could never be happy
confined to a laboratory. While the laboratory work and the data
analysis in the office are the keystones of completing a research
project, it is the field work that inspires me. Every time I go to
the field I see something new. However small or large, each new
observation helps me understand what makes a marine ecosystem work.
That's what keep me in science.