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  NSF Presenters

Dr. Knut Christianson
Dr. Knut Christianson is a young scientist who recently completed his Ph.D. in geophysics at Penn State University and is now working at St. Olaf College. He has already been to Antarctica five times working on a number of different projects involving precision GPS measurements, active source seismics and ice-penetrating radar. Christianson has also done research on glacier geophysics projects in Greenland, Norway and Svalbard where he was supported by fellowships from the Fulbright and National Science Foundations. He has just completed two field seasons on the WISSARD project and returned from Antarctica in late January 2012 with new radar and GPS data on the dynamic subglacial Lake Whillans, about to be accessed by drilling next year.

Dr. Robert Jacobel
Dr. Robert Jacobel Dr. Robert Jacobel is a Professor of Physics at St. Olaf College where he teaches in the Environmental Studies Program in addition to courses in physics. His research utilizes ice-penetrating radar and satellite remote sensing to investigate ice masses in both temperate and polar regions. Jacobel has been a participant in the U.S. Antarctic Research Program since 1987 studying the dynamics and evolution of the Antarctic ice sheets. He has been to Antarctica numerous times working on a variety of different projects, mostly involving radar. The Jacobel Glacier in coastal West Antarctica was named for him in recognition of his contributions to Antarctic science. He also enjoys reading about the history of the polar regions and teaches a course on the “literature of the poles.”

Ms. Susan Kelly
Susan Kelly is the Education and Public Outreach Coordinator for the WISSARD (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling) program, and also conducts outreach programs for the WAIS Divide project centered at Montana State University. Susan has run education and outreach programming focused on extreme environments in the thermal features of Yellowstone National Park and is excited to expand her experience to include colder climates.

Susan has a BA degree in Environmental Science from the University of Colorado, Boulder and a M.S. in Earth Sciences from Montana State University. She has worked in science education and outreach capacities for more than 20 years working with both informal and formal education audiences. She teaches field classes for teachers that are obtaining their Master’s in Science of Science Education program at MSU, and was recognized for outstanding achievement in science education by the Montana Science Teachers Association in 2007.

Dr. Jill Mikucki
Jill Mikucki Jill Mikucki is an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Mikucki's research interests include the diversity and function of microbial communities in icy environments, linkages between microbial metabolism and contemporary and ancient ecosystem chemistry and the selection of microbial species and physiologies in extreme environments. Jill focuses on the microbial ecology of subglacial environments because the isolation and relatively simple food-webs in these systems allows for the study of microbially-mediated processes which can be difficult to identify in more complex ecosystems. Icy environments also serve as analogs for past global glaciation events, inform exobiological exploration, yield novel microorganisms for diversity studies and biotechnological advancement and will help us understand life's ability to persist in cold and dark isolation for extended periods of time.

Joseph R. McConnell
Joseph R. McConnell Joe McConnell studies climate and environmental history to understand natural and human-caused changes in the Earth system. His work uses polar ice cores as recorders of past climate and environmental change, and focuses on the relationship between aerosols and climate change, on time scales of months to tens of thousands of years. Such aerosols contribute to climate change and come from many sources including desert dust, sea spray, volcanic eruptions, forest fires, and industrial, agricultural, and other human activities. They are transported in the atmosphere over large distances from their sources in the low- and mid-latitudes to the high-latitude polar regions where they are deposited in snow. One clear outcome of ice core studies is the recognition that human activities have greatly altered the levels of aerosols even in the remotest regions of Earth since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

Joe McConnell’s research group has developed and applied methods for making very precise, high-depth-resolution chemical measurements in ice cores. He has applied these methods to ice cores that he and his colleagues have collected from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets as well as mountain glaciers, leading to monthly to annual records of aerosols extending from today to thousands of years back in time. These rich data provide a history of aerosol concentrations, sources, and atmospheric transport patterns and Joe’s research group is working with climate modelers to incorporate these historical aerosol records in the evaluation of model simulations of past climate and the role of aerosols in climate change. The overall goal is to better understand past natural and human causes of climate change which will lead to better predictions of future climate.

Joe has been a faculty member at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno NV since 1998. DRI is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education. He has conducted field research in Antarctica, throughout the Arctic, and in alpine regions. He runs a unique analytical laboratory devoted to aerosol measurements in polar and alpine ice cores. His research group currently is involved in projects at both poles and in alpine regions in Asia and the Americas.

For more information contact webseminars@nsta.org

Underwritten in part by NSF   NSF Logo