Hello from the Nathaniel B. Palmer!
My name is Hannah Nygaard, and I am a first year M.S. student at Central Michigan University. For my research project, I am utilizing samples collected from the 2020 cruise to examine metabolic potential of microorganisms in continental shelf sediments at multiple depth intervals. These microorganisms play a key role in cycling nutrients and, therefore, help support life in the surrounding benthic and pelagic ecosystems. It’s been incredible putting into perspective everything that goes into obtaining these samples and studying such a remote environment. We are still in transit to Antarctica and already so much has happened to get us this far. As the days continue to pass by, the excitement continues to bubble up as we await our arrival at our first sampling site. Not only am I excited to have hands on experience processing the sediment cores, but I am also excited to see all the neat invertebrates that come up (I am very excited to take a picture with some sea spiders).
While my samples are from 2020, this is my first time aboard a research cruise to Antarctica. It has been several days since we left port and days have started to blend together as we make our way south. My days have mostly been spent watching movies in my bunk, trying desperately not to think too much about the movement of the ship, and napping between every mealtime. As the seasickness subsides, I am looking forward to passing time by crocheting, reading journal articles that I stockpiled, and doing jigsaw puzzles on an app I downloaded that doesn’t require internet. I have found that my favorite activity to do while waiting to do science is going out on the front deck watching the waves and scouting for marine life. I was lucky enough one day to see a pod of dolphins swim in front of the ship. Sadly, I was too slow to get a picture.
I’m excited to observe the beauty that is Antarctica (and take an endless number of pictures). As I sit here thinking about what to write, the main thing that crosses my mind if how grateful I am to have this opportunity to learn, explore, and do what I love.
Central Michigan University