Monday, October 31, 2011

Who We Are

Who We Are: The Antarctic Salp Genomics Science Team

Oceanography is a scientific discipline that requires enormous resources to launch expeditions to every corner of the world’s oceans, and allow scientists to make measurements and observations from the surface of the ocean to the deepest abyss. When scientists join oceanographic research cruises, they frequently work in teams. Depending on the size of the vessel – and the number of cabins for the scientific party – a research cruise may include as many as 5 or 10 teams of scientists working on different projects. Within each team, the members work together to complete the many tasks associated with sea-going research. Team members are assigned to 6-, 8- or 12-hour watches, and work at sea usually continues 24 hours a day. The different teams on a particular cruise also coordinate their activities, to ensure that everyone is able to meet their scientific goals and objectives to the extent possible.

The Antarctic Salp Genomics science team for our cruise includes four scientistists with different backgrounds and expertise. Here is who we are:


Ann Bucklin is a professor and head of the Department of Marine Sciences and director of the Marine Sciences and Technology Center at the University of Connecticut. She received a B.A. in Biology from Oberlin College and the Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. The theme underlying her research interest – spatial and temporal patterns of molecular genetic variation in marine organisms – developed from her early studies of sea anemones. Her current focus is the molecular systematics, phylogeography, and phylogenetics of marine crustacean holozooplankton (i.e., animals that spend their entire lives in the pelagic zone). Recently she was a lead scientist for the Census of Marine Zooplankton (CMarZ), an international initiative during 2004-2010 to study global patterns of zooplankton diversity. She has participated in 21 oceanographic research cruises, serving as chief scientist for six of these. The Antarctic Salp Survey is her first field experience in the Southern Ocean – a long-awaited and very welcome adventure!

Peter Wiebe grew up near the seashore in central California, where he developed a love for and a curiosity about the oceans at a very early age. As a youth, he spent hours free-diving in the Monterey Bay area; he assembled his first SCUBA gear in 1954. After undergraduate studies in Northern Arizona, a region whose oceans disappeared 40 million years ago – thus making him too late to study them first hand – he went to southern California and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to obtain a Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography. Now an Emeritus Senior Scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, his interests have most recently been focused on the dynamics of zooplankton populations on Georges Bank and on krill living on the continental shelf region of the Western Antarctic Peninsula. His area of expertise is in the quantitative population ecology of marine zooplankton, including small-scale distribution and abundance of zooplankton, biology of cold-core and warm-core Gulf Stream Rings, and determination of zooplankton biomass, abundance, and size by acoustical backscattering. He has been involved in the development of a number of instrument systems, including the Longhurst-Hardy Plankton Recorder; Multiple Opening/Closing Net and Environmental Sensing System (MOCNESS); Bioacoustic Sensing Platform And Relay (BIOSPAR), a free-drifting buoy; and three towed body systems: Greene Bomber and two versions of the Bio-Optical, Multifrequency Acoustics, and Physical Environmental Recorder (BIOMAPER; BIOMAPER-II).

Paola Batta-Lona is a PhD student at the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Connecticut. She earned the M.Sc. in Oceanography at UConn in 2005 and a B.S. in Biology with Honors from the Autonomous University of Baja California, México. Her research interests are the genomics and genetics of Southern Ocean zooplankton, with an emphasis on population genetics and environmental genomics. Salps are the main focus of her doctoral research; she is studying their population genetics and gene expression patterns as a result of its interaction with the changing environment in the Southern Ocean. This is her seventh oceanographic research cruise, including previous Antarctic expeditions on German, Japanese, Norwegian research vessels. This cruise will provide useful and exciting new data to investigate and learn more about the population dynamics of the Southern Ocean salp, Salpa thompsoni.

Chelsea Stanley is an Acoustic Research Technician for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Canada. After pursuing a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Victoria and a diploma in Environmental Technology, she began to work for the DFO, with interests in fisheries and plankton hydroacoustics and marine mammals. She has diverse oceanographic research experience, including collection and analysis of acoustic data using primarily a Simrad EK60 echosounder; calibration of ship-mounted acoustic equipment; sorting, identification and sampling of trawl net samples (including fish and invertebrates); plankton sampling; CTD and rosette operations; and oxygen titration; and ammonium and salinity analysis. To date, she has spent more than 400 days at sea. After spending time in the Pacific Ocean (off the coast of North America) and the Beaufort Sea (in the Canadian Arctic), she is excited to be in the Antarctic and to be a participant in this year's Salp Survey cruise.


Our team has gathered in Punta Arenas, Chile, where the R/V Laurence M. Gould is docked to prepare the ship for the cruise. We are preparing our laboratories, aquariums, and field sampling gear for action. We are almost ready to go!

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