Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution -
Woods Hole, MA

Dr. Rebecca Gast

My research has the overall theme of molecular protistan ecology,
and includes analyses of the genetic diversity, detection, distribution
and abundances of protists (algae and protozoa) in the extreme
marine environments of the Antarctic and the Arctic. The goal of this
work is to help further our knowledge regarding the function of the
microbial food web in these ecosystems. The purpose of my lab’s
participation in this research expedition onboard the Nathaniel B.
Palmer is to examine the protistan diversity in water, ice and slush of
the Ross Sea, Antarctica during the late austral spring and early
austral summer seasons for comparison with information we
collected previously in the mid to late austral summer. We are
pursuing both genetic analyses and enrichment culture (which will be
described more fully in our web updates) to determine what protists
are present at this time, whether they are related to ones previously
detected, and conduct enrichment and grazing experiments to better
understand how protists have adapted to growth in the extreme cold.

Mark Dennett

I am a Research Specialist at Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution with a primary focus in microbial ecology. I have been to
the Antarctic several times before. In fact, I have been to sea on the
N.B. Palmer more than any other ship. On previous trips to the Ross
Sea I have been quantifying seasonal changes in the rates of
herbivory and bacterivory by nano- and microplankton along with
their abundance and distribution as part of the JGOFS/AESOPS
program. On the Antarctic peninsula, I was part of 2 GLOBEC
cruises studying the distribution of krill. On this cruise I will help with
the processing of water and ice samples for molecular sequence
identification of marine protists along with coordinating our
over-the-side water and ice coring operations.

Dawn Moran

I am a research assistant in Dr. Rebecca Gast's molecular protistan
ecology lab. My main responsibility is to isolate, maintain and
describe the lab's protistan culture collections. Presently, our main
collection consists of Antarctic protists collected from two previous
cruises. We use these protists to compare with and support field
data, gain a better understanding about the physiology of
psychrophillic and psychrotolerant protists and to observe the
ecological roles and relationships that these protists play in their
communities. On this cruise I will be establishing mixed and clonal
protistan enrichment cultures from water, ice and slush environments.
I will also be isolating single cells to archive photos and the
corresponding 18s ribosomal DNA sequences of protists from their
natural environments. Picking protistan cells from their in situ
environments allows us to characterize protists which do not easily
grow in culture. We hope to gain a greater understanding of
Antarctic marine protistan diversity by combining these molecular
and morphological techniques.
Temple University - Philadelphia, PA

Temple University - Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Robert Sanders

I'm an ecologist who studies planktonic organisms in marine and
fresh waters. My research emphasis is on protists (algae and
protozoa) and invertebrates. Recent work has focused on the effects
of ultraviolet radiation on ciliates and flagellates, the ecological role
of mixotrophic phytoplankton that are both photosynthetic and
bacterivorous, and the utilization of protozoa as food by
zooplankton. On this research trip I will be working with colleagues
to examine bacterivory and carnivory by protists and the ways that
UV radiation affects growth and feeding of these single-celled
organisms. This is my second trip to Antarctica with the Woods
Hole / USC group. More information about my research, including
some pictures from our last voyage to the Southern Ocean can be
found at http://astro.temple.edu/~sanders1. University of Southern California - Los Angeles, CA

University of Southern California - Los
Angeles, CA

Dr. David Caron

Dave was unexpectedly not able to join this trip to the Southern
Ocean, but we are sure he is here in spirit. His research interests are
reflected by the projects of the USC group and the other projects
described on this website.

Dr. Astrid Schnetzer

I am a Postdoc in Dr. David Caron’s lab at the University of
Southern California. Much of my current focus is on combining
traditional microscopy with a molecular approach (ribosomal DNA
sequence) to investigate how crustaceans (copepods or shrimp)
shape the community structure of protists (microalgae and protozoa).
The goal is to create the link between genetic species identification
and the ecological role that individual protistan species/groups play in
marine food webs. Copepod predation can have a major effect on
the community structure of protistan assemblages. On this cruise I
hope to learn about protistan diversity in open water, slush and ice
and to better understand how Ross Sea copepods make a living by
preying on them.

Julie Rose

Hi! I’m a fourth year PhD student in Dave Caron’s lab at the
University of Southern California. My main research interest is
protistan ecology, and my thesis project investigates the effects of
temperature on Antarctic protists. While on this cruise, I want to
examine Antarctic microbial food webs in early spring, to see who is
eating who, and how fast bacteria and small algae are being eaten.
As you can see from the other pages on this site, we have a culture
collection of Antarctic protists at WHOI and USC, and I’m also
interested in culturing some of the larger Antarctic protists on this
cruise (can you believe we consider 0.1 mm large???) This is my first
time down to Antarctica, and I’m really excited to see this amazing

Rebecca Schaffner

I am a technician in Dr. Dave Caron’s lab at USC. On this cruise, I
will be involved in studying the microbial communities found in the
waters and ice of the Ross Sea using flow cytometric techniques. I
will primarily operate a piece of equipment called a portable
FlowCam©, which measures the size and fluorescent characteristics
of plankton and takes a digital photographic image of particles as
they pass through the flow stream of the instrument. It is capable of
imaging particles from 0.005mm to 0.2mm in diameter, which covers
almost the entire size ranges of the species we are interested in
studying. I will also use the FacsCalibur flow cytometer to study the
size, abundance, and fluorescence of smaller plankton, including
bacteria. I am excited to be going on my first Antarctic cruise.

Matt Travao

I am a research technician in Dr. David Caron’s lab at the University
of Southern California. My work there is mainly in the field of
molecular biology. I work with the cloning and sequencing of
microbial DNA for the purpose of identification. With this
information I am able observe community structure and changes in
microbial diversity over time. This is my objective for this cruise. We
are on our way to collect water samples in the Ross Sea to observe
what organisms live in different locations, and how a community in
one location will change over time.