Meet the NCSU gang!

Dr. Dave DeMaster, Chief Scientist. Hi, I'm a Professor at NC State University, and I am interested in using radioisotopes to understand feeding dynamics on the Antarctic seafloor. There are several naturally occurring radioactive elements that we use. One is C-14. We can use it to date materials that contain carbon. Another is Thorium 234. It has a short half-life so we can use it to understand short term movement of particles, such as phytoplankton and sediment, through the water column and seabed. The most exciting part of this to me is using the isotope concentrations in worm tissues and stomach contents to see how much fresh phytoplankton the worms are ingesting 500m below the water's surface.

Dr. Carrie Thomas, Principal Investigator. Hi, I'm an Assistant Research Professor at NC State University. I use a couple different research tools to understand feeding dynamics and carbon cycling in the mud at the ocean's bottom. One tool we use is called a flux chamber. In it, we incubate a small part of the seafloor and measure concentrations of important oxidants and by-products of respiration to gauge how much organic matter is consumed by microbes and small animals living in the mud. Another tool we use is C-13 labeled phytoplankton grown in Raleigh. C-13 is a stable isotope of carbon that is relatively rare in nature. By growing phytoplankton in special media, we create organic matter that contains only C-13 (little or no C-12). When we add the labeled phytoplankton to sediment or feed it to invertebrates, we can actually follow the phytoplankton derived carbon into the food web.

From left: Stian, our Chief MST, Dr. Dave DeMaster, Dr. Craig Smith (in red hiding behind the box-corer) and Dr. Carrie Thomas.

Hi, I'm Rebecca Pirtle-Levy and very new to Antarctic research. I have just started a PhD program at NCSU and am looking forward to playing with mud! I will be working with flux chambers assisting Dr. Carrie Thomas.

Hi, I'm Kimberly Null. I am a PhD student at NC State. I normally work in the Neuse River Estuary but now will be traveling to Antarctica to run the nutrient analyzer.

From left: Brian Pointer, Rebecca Pirtle-Levy, Kim Null, Linda Waters. It is considered good luck for sailors to rub the toe of Magellan before leaving for sea.

Hey all, my name is Alyssa Hopkins and I am a Master's student working under Dr. Carrie Thomas. I have a vested interest in polar topics and am very excited to be participating in this series of Antarctic cruises. My task on ship will be to assist Dr. Thomas and assess phytoplankton species diversity.

Alyssa Hopkins admiring University of Hawaii scientist, Dr. Andrew Sweetman.
Hey, I'm Linda. I'll be doing all the jobs no one else wants to do as well as squeezing in a bit of sampling for the tiny larval organisms that live near the bottom of the ocean.

Greetings, I am Brian Pointer, a graduate student at NCSU working with Dr. Dave using radioisotopes to investigate sediment and ecosystem dynamics. This trip is going to rock!


  1. MARY said...
    Are you only sampling sediment on this cruise, or will you also be gathering other sea life?

    What other projects (outside the primary team on board) do you gather data for while on the cruise?

    Good luck and know you have a regular audience in Columbus OHIO!
    Antarctica NCSU said...
    Hi Mary in Ohio!
    Are you only sampling sediment on this cruise, or will you also be
    gathering other sea life? We will be gathering many types of samples on
    this cruise. We will use three methods to sample sediment, but we will
    also collect seawater using niskin bottles; zooplankton using tucker
    trawls; phytoplankton using small ring nets; animals from the seafloor
    using an otter trawl and a benthic sled; and particles falling throught
    the water column using the particle trap for which we waited so patiently
    at the dock(!). In addition to thses samples, we will take pictures of
    the seafloor during and in between cruises.

    What other projects (outside the primary team on board) do you gather
    data for while on the cruise? The ship is constantly collecting data as we
    travel. Much of this data will be used by physical oceanographers outside
    our immediate group. The data include seawater gas concentrations,
    salinity and temperature. We will also share current profile data and
    samples with colleagues at home.

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