Meet our 2016-2017 VIMS Bloggers

During the next few months, VIMS scientists will be providing an inside look into their experiences as they visit the waters around Antarctic on research expeditions. Mar Arroyo, a first-year VIMS graduate student affiliated with Dr. Elizabeth Shadwick’s laboratory, will take part in a cruise to East Antarctica from mid-December through January. Meanwhile, researchers led by Dr. Deborah Steinberg will be taking part in the Palmer Long-Term Ecological Research Program (PAL-LTER) at the U.S. Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula from late December to mid-February.

Shadwick Lab Expedition

Mar Arroyo

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VIMS graduate student Mar Arroyo

I’m a first-year graduate student in Dr. Elizabeth Shadwick’s lab at VIMS. I received my BSc in Marine and Atmospheric Science from the University of Miami in May 2016, with a focus in chemical oceanography. At UM, I spent more than 60 days at sea, participating on research cruises with NOAA and CLIVAR/GO-SHIP. I’m interested in inorganic carbon chemistry in the Southern Ocean and the impacts of the changing sea-ice environment on the carbon cycle. For the next six weeks, I will be on a voyage to the Southern Ocean and the Mertz and Totten Glaciers in East Antarctica on the RV Aurora Australis. The Totten Glacier has been recently named the fastest thinning glacier in East Antarctica. I’m excited to see the changes to the carbon system from years ago because of this glacier melt.

Steinberg/PAL-LTER Expedition

Patricia Thibodeau

VIMS graduate student Patricia Thibodeau
VIMS graduate student Patricia Thibodeau

Growing up on the coast of Maine, the ocean has always been an important part of my life. Studying at Bowdoin College, I realized I was very interested in the interactions between the physics and biology of the ocean. Plankton are the ideal organisms for studying these interactions as passive drifters of the ocean. The Antarctic represents an environment still relatively understudied, particularly regarding plankton. My interest in climate change and plankton led me to pursue my Ph.D. in Dr. Steinberg’s zooplankton ecology lab. For my dissertation, I have the opportunity to conduct research on the Palmer Antarctica Long-Term Ecological Research cruise every January. Specifically, I am studying pteropods, open-ocean snails important in food-web and biogeochemical cycling, and how they may be affected by climate change in the region.  

John Conroy

VIMS graduate student John 'Jack' Conroy
VIMS graduate student John ‘Jack’ Conroy

I am a first-year graduate student at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science working with Dr. Debbie Steinberg. Our research group is participating in the 25th annual Palmer Antarctica Long-Term Ecological Research (PAL LTER) cruise this January. I went on my first PAL LTER cruise two years ago as a William & Mary undergraduate and have since hung around the Steinberg lab with hopes of getting back to the ice. My broad scientific interest lies in how ecosystems respond to climate change. Rapid warming in the region we study—the Western Antarctic Peninsula—has lead to substantial ice loss in recent decades. I am excited to join researchers from around the world working to identify the implications of these changes.

Kharis Schrage

kharis_schrageI’m a senior honors student at William & Mary. Knowing I wanted to study marine biology, I joined Dr. Jon Allen’s lab during freshman year and started working on both the ecology and development of acorn worms. Since then I’ve participated in field courses in Virginia, Wales, and Bonaire. Last winter I spent three weeks at Lizard Island research station in the Great Barrier Reef doing developmental work on Crown of Thorns Seastars. I spent last summer on an honors fellowship in Maine doi
ng my Honors thesis on acorn worm ecology and intertidal zonation. Dr. Steinberg offers a spot on the cruise to a William & Mary undergraduate each year, and this year I was lucky enough to get chosen! I look forward to expanding my research experience through this trip!