With help from the Oden professorship, Slonczewski headed to Antarctica in November to research how algae and protists (a diverse group of one-celled organisms) impact and are impacted by climate change. Slonczewski chronicled her preparation for and time in Antarctica in her blog.
Slonczewski traveled to Antarctica with a small team of scientists, including her host researcher, Rachael Morgan-Kiss, an associate professor at the Miami University Department of Microbiology.
“She wrote a grant for another expedition, which, if funded, would enable a Kenyon student to go the following year,” Slonczewski said. “I’m hoping that this travel to Antarctica will end up generating opportunities for Kenyon students to also experience Antarctica.”
Traveling to Antarctica was an adventure in itself. “It’s actually quite challenging to get to go to Antarctica, because the continent is subject to international regulation,” said Slonczewski, who had to seek approval from the National Science Foundation. Slonczewski also had to undergo training for a week in New Zealand before landing in Antarctica — a place she describes as “perhaps the nearest thing to another planet that we would find on Earth.”
“Your National Geographic view of Antarctica is the pristine, endless icy expanse,” she wrote. “What it takes to get there, however, is eight hours in the cargo hold of an Air Force prop plane. Barely heated. No restroom — just a cardboard box.”
To read about Slonczewski’s adventures in Antarctica, visit her blog at ultraphyte.com.