Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jackie Mueller, scientist at Palmer Station

Part of our super-secret mission is hauling scientists to Palmer Station, which is a science station located at the southern point of Anvers Island, which is part of the Palmer Archipelago. The Palmer Archipelago in turn is part of the Antarctic Peninsula, which is the landmass that protrudes from Antarctica towards the tip of South America, recognizable on any map. The Palmer Archipelago was named after Captain Nathaniel Brown Palmer, who sailed a sloop south from Cape Horn in 1820 and became the first person to sight the peninsula.

“What brings you to Palmer Station?” I ask Jackie Mueller, who stands at the gangway waiting for the zodiac to arrive. We’ve slowed down to a stop and stare mesmerized at the shore. Whatever Jackie is here to investigate, she’ll have a hell of a view while at it.
“I’m going to look at how viruses control phyto plankton, and also at bacterial population dynamics,” she says, and explains that she’s in her second year of a Ph.D. program at the University of Hawaii. She’ll be stationed at Palmer for two months.

I want to ask her about her life, about the people she’s left behind, about what phyto plankton actually might be. But as the zodiac pulls along side and we begin to sling her luggage over the side I realize that I mostly want to tell her that I envy her. She boards the little boat and pulls off to what will be an experience of a life time.

I hope she’ll get to see lots of penguins, lots of candy-wrapper sunsets and lots of friendly fellow scientists. And if the world is to be a better place when mankind understands phyto plankton, then we can rest assured: Jackie Mueller is at Palmer station figuring it out. I dropped her off myself.

Jackie Mueller, scientist at Palmer Station

A Palmer Station zodiac takes Jackie home

Jackie's view for the next two months
View from the bay where Palmer Station is located

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