Watch here for interviews with scientists, technicians and crew!

Interview with Raytheon Marine Science Technician Lindsey Loughry 

David and Lindsey happy to be cutting coral samples! (T. van der Flierdt).

When was the first time you visited the Southern Ocean? And when was the first time you saw a penguin?  I first visited the Southern Ocean in the fall of 2007. During lunch on my birthday that year, the Captain called me on the telephone in the mess hall asking me to come to the Bridge. When I got to the Bridge, I got to see my first iceberg!! Shortly thereafter I got to see penguins for the first time! What a great birthday present!

What does your job involve on a day-to-day basis?
As a Marine Science Technician my main responsibility is lab safety. Lab safety includes everything from making sure safe chemical handling procedures are being used in the labs, to making sure everything is lashed down in case of rough seas. I also am responsible for maintaining our lab equipment and preparing the scientific samples for their long journey home!

What’s been your favorite moment on the cruise so far?
My favorite moment on the cruise so far was watching Andrea's reaction to seeing penguins for the first time. There was actual screaming, jumping up and down, and a bit of running around involved! After coming to the Southern Ocean for several years, it’s nice to be reminded how exciting it is to get to see these things for the first’s rejuvenating, and I love that part of the job!

What is your favorite dessert in the galley?
My favorite desserts on board are the birthday cakes!! Every birthday is celebrated with an ice cream cake made by the galley staff. My favorite ice cream cake is all chocolate! Mmmmm, I can’t resist them!

What are you going to do this summer, back on dry land after the cruise?
When I get home I’m going to enjoy the sunshine and warmth of Austin, TX to its fullest! I have plans for hiking, camping, sailing on the lake, and generally just relaxing at home with friends.

First Up -An interview with Dr. Laura Robinson, Chief Scientist, and Dr. Rhian Waller, Co-Chief Scientis
Dr. Laura Robinson (left) and Dr. Rhian Waller (right)

Studying deep-sea coral biology and chemistry seems a perfect and exciting combination – when did you two start working together? And do you have any plans to work together again in the near future?

Laura & Rhian:- We first met each other on an Alvin submersible cruise to the New England Seamounts in 2003 (led by Jess Adkins, Caltech). Laura was a postdoc at Caltech working paleoclimate in fossil corals, and Rhian just started a postdoc at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution working on ancient DNA from fossil coral skeletons – so it was a good match!

Our science is so complimentary it was really a good fit to start working together – in the beginning we worked on projects that encompassed looking at how far back we could get ancient DNA from corals, and now has taken more of a biogeographic role – looking at how past and present species diversity are being affected by prevailing environmental conditions.

Best of all we are both from the UK and found out that our parents both live in south west England, in Devon, less than an hour away from each other!

What do you think is the most important thing you have learnt from each other?

- Before I met Laura I didn’t really grasp just how these fossil corals could be used to look back in the past - I’m so used to looking in the present at ecological processes, it’s been a fantastic eye-opener to me just what we can learn from these skeletons. Laura and I are also at similar stages in our careers, so it’s been great to see her set up her lab, watch her work with students and I’ve learnt so much from that, it’s really helped me set up my own lab group. Laura is not only one of my best collaborators but we also have so much fun when we work together, I’m hoping we continue to do so for a long time to come.

Laura:-I’ve learnt a lot from Rhian, I could talk about her vast cruise experience (she has spent coming up on two years at sea in the last ten years…) or her specialist knowledge of deep-sea corals - but instead I’d like to say that I have really learned the value of collaborating with a colleague and friend that you can trust. I can sleep at night on the cruise knowing that Rhian will be making the right decisions, balancing our goals with the time we have available, keeping us on track – and making me coffee when I wake up…

If you could collect one “dream” coral, which one and where would it be? 

Rhian:- I find it hard to pick one coral, as I love working with them all – solitaries, reef builders, hard corals, soft corals, black corals – you name it, I’m interested in learning more about it. I am a sucker for solitary hard corals though, and my favorite by far is Flabellum impensum – the coral we’re going to collect at our next station on the Western Antarctic Peninsula. This coral broods its young all the year round, so it’s a great coral to get larvae from to do experiments on larval development under different environmental conditions.

Laura:- I also like the solitary corals, but for rather a different reason. These corals make their skeletons from aragonite, a form of calcium carbonate. This aragonite contains uranium that decays, and we can use this decay to calculate how long ago the coral died, even out as far as half a million years.

What is your favourite moment on this cruise so far?

Laura:- Probably when we pulled up the first trawl successfully, and knew that we were starting to get the science underway. This cruise has been a long time in planning, and it is absolutely satisfying to see the samples coming up on deck each day.

Rhian:- My favorite moment on the cruise so far was that very first day. We walked down the dock at Punta Arenas and everyone climbed up the gangplank and into the labs. I was amazed at how this diverse group of people just got down to it, worked together and got us all ready to go in the space of a few days – despite most meeting each other for the first time less than 24hrs previously. One of the more important things in cruise organization is picking a science crew that can work together effectively, and hopefully have fun while doing it. I think we definitely picked the right crew for this expedition, from that very first day on the boat I knew the cruise was going to go well.