Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wet ones

I've had the privilege of working with some awesome scientific divers over the years, and I'd like to introduce a few of them here. The first is Dr. Joan Bernhard. I met "Joanie" during my first season in Antarctica, and we've remained close friends ever since. She is, in a sense, the sister I never had. (I haven't had the courage to pull her pigtails, though!) We collaborate on various projects, and often bounce ideas back and forth that ultimately lead to new adventures. We also spend a lot of time arguing about how to write our science papers. In fact,  I owe Joan comments on a manuscript right now, so I better quickly introduce two other divers and get right back to work on it.

The other two are Dr. Karen Sterling (above, and below right) and Mr. Doug Coons (below, left). To be honest, I don't remember how we got to know each other. I think that Karen wrote to me out of the blue, and Doug was recommended by someone from a local dive shop. (Maybe they will post comments to this blog to tell their story.) Both are tough as nails and have an incredible work ethic. In addition to working as a commercial diver, Doug was a medic in the New York National Guard; he is now completing a nursing degree. Karen lives in Manhattan and mixes her knowledge of finance and biology in the investment industry.

People from all walks of life have brought their extraordinary skills to our research program. I'd be nowhere without them, and this is true of modern science: it takes a strong team of passionate people to make progress. The notion that a scientist is the oddball sitting in a corner peering into a microscope (or telescope or mass spectrometer, or some other gizmo) is only a tiny part of the big picture. 

Oh, by the way: My sister Joan is an oddball sitting in a corner peering into her laser confocal microscope at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute! (huh HUH, Joanie!)


  1. Dr. B,
    It looks like there is a laundry basket going into the ice. What are you using it for?

    George thought it was interesting that right when the drill hit the water it froze!

    How long does it take for you to get our comments on the blog (how often do you check your blog)?

    Hannah thought it was interesting that you are actually able to get into the ice with those suits on--don't you get cold?

  2. Dear Ms. Clapp,

    The laundry basket is tied to the end of our down line, i.e., the rope that marks the exit hole. We string flashers on the down line so that divers can easily see the line and find the hole. They can place samples or equipment in the basket, which dive tenders haul to the surface for recovery.

    George, I think the ice is much colder than the freezing point of the slush, so if we do not quickly remove the drill bit, it gets frozen stuck.

    I check my blog daily, and try to write a few times a week. In a perfect world I would be blogging all the time!

    Hannah - We wear many layers of special underwear so that we stay toasty warm inside the dive suits. I'll bring a suit for you to try on if you invite me to visit your class;}

    Thanks for the Q's!