Carleton Students and Professors head to Antarctica for an
'Anything But Textbook' Experience
Published: January 24th, 2011
Seven Carleton University students will be earning course credits next month while conducting research on the Earth’s southernmost continent.
The students and their instructors, Claudia Schroder-Adams and Natalia Rybczynski, will travel to Antarctica Feb. 12 to 28 as part of the Students on Ice program.
Led by Canadian adventurer, environmentalist and educator Geoff Green, the program provides participants with a unique educational opportunity that allows them to visit some of the world’s most wild and awe-inspiring ecosystems in order to experience a transformative connection with nature – a connection that changes the way they understand and act in the world. Green has already travelled to Antarctica 80 times.
“A lot of tourists head to Antarctica for a sightseeing adventure, but this is not going to be a show-and-tell holiday for our students,” says Prof. Schroder-Adams. “It’s an opportunity to do serious scientific research while gaining hands-on experience in a very fragile ecosystem.”
“The polar regions are ‘ground zero’ for climate change as they are the most sensitive areas for global warming,” notes Rybczynski, an adjunct professor in earth sciences and biology and Carleton alumna. “Our students will be able to see this pattern first-hand while learning more about the causes and consequences of climate change by studying the geological record in Antarctica.”
The field work is part of the coursework for three courses at Carleton that focus on the origin and evolution of Antarctica ecosystems over time. Of the seven students taking the undergraduate and graduate courses, six are earth sciences students while one is neuroscience. Three are undergraduates. The other four graduate students also conducted their research in the Canadian Arctic, making them pole-to-pole adventurers.
“I was very lucky to be part of a research expedition to the Canadian High Arctic last summer, an opportunity that very few people get to experience,” says grad student Thomas Cullen. “The chance I have been given to visit the Antarctic as part of my Carleton coursework, and see both poles in the period of a year, is an extraordinary experience I will remember for the rest of my life.”
The group will fly to Ushuaia, a picturesque community at the southern tip of Argentina, and then board MV Ushuaia, a 3,000-tonne, ice-strengthened vessel outfitted for supply and oceanographic research. They will be joined by students and staff from elsewhere in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, India, Kuwait, United Kingdom, Spain, Norway, Sweden, France and Argentina.
While on board, expeditioners will conduct scientific research such as taking ocean water and sediment samples, as well as attend lectures and workshops. Daily trips by Zodiac to the mainland will facilitate hands-on studies of rocks, fossils, ice and ecological habitats.
Rybczynski, who is also a research scientist and fossil mammal specialist with the Canadian Museum of Nature, along with Schroder-Adams, a micropaleontologist, are also hoping to visit Seymour Island, one of the few sites in the world where the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary is exposed, documenting the mass extinction that brought the dinosaur era to an end. This expedition is one of many research and educational collaborations between Carleton and the museum. Other ongoing collaborative projects include the undergraduate program in vertebrate paleontology, graduate supervision, summer student internships in the museum’s mineralogy and gemology collections and provision of valued collection material for student research.
A total of $36,000 has been generously donated in support of Carleton students’ participation in this initiative by the Gainey Foundation and two Carleton alumni, Jim Sullivan and JC Potvin. Sullivan and Potvin are both proud graduates of Carleton’s Department of Earth Sciences.
“The Students on Ice program is a unique, hands-on approach to environmental education,” says Anna Gainey, executive director of the Foundation. “The Gainey Foundation is proud to help to make this exceptional research opportunity available to Carleton students.”
Additional funds have been provided by the office of the provost, vice-president (Research and International) and the dean of the Faculty of Science. The students are busy fundraising to cover their remaining travel expenses.
For more information:
613-520-2600, ext. 8705
Original source taken from: Carleton News Room