About the Biologists

The biologists, ecologists, and hydrologists that contribute to this blog are affiliated with the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research program. This blog was started by Eric Sokol, who was a graduate student and then postdoc at Virginia Tech and is now a researcher at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. While at Virginia Tech, Eric worked with Jeb Barrett, and a summary of Antarctic research from the Barrett lab can be found in an article by the Research Magazine at Virginia Tech.

Scientists who have contributed or will be contributing to this blog during the 2017-2018 field season include:

Eric Sokol: Dr. Sokol is an ecologist who usually studies aquatic insects in temperate streams. His research in Antarctica focuses on communities of microscopic organisms (e.g., bacteria, cyanobacteria, algae) that live in the soil, streams, and ponds in the McMurdo Dry Valleys and other ice-free places in the Transantarctic Mountains. In general, the goal of his research is to figure out how much biodiversity is organized by the environment and how much is organized by random chance. This will help scientists understand how Antarctic biodiversity will respond to a changing climate.

NOTE: I won't be in the field this year, but I will be coordinating outreach and I will be able to answer questions. Feel free to contact me at eric.r.sokol@colorado.edu
Jeb Barrett: Dr. Barrett is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. Research in the Barrett Lab addresses the influences of soils, climate variability, hydrology, and biodiversity on biogeochemical cycling from the scale of microorganisms to regional landscapes.
Anna Bergstrom: Anna is a hydrologist and glaciologist who studies the piedmont and alpine glaciers of the dry valleys. She is focusing on how the sediment on the surface of the glaciers influences how much and when the glaciers melt. Even just a little dust can have a big effect. She is also trying to understand what is the chemistry of the glacial melt water and how it may change and the causes of change as it flows off the glacier. Anna gets to spend her time in Antarctica walking around on the glaciers!
Josh Darling: Josh is interested freshwater algae and the ecological characteristics that influence community structure. He is particularly interested in diatoms, a type of algae useful for environmental monitoring because of species specific tolerances to environmental variables. In Antarctica Josh will help maintain a network of stream gauges and collect algae samples in an effort to monitor the McMurdo Dry Valley stream ecosystems.
Mike Gooseff: Dr. Gooseff is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) and in the Department of Civil Architectural & Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado.  He is currently the Lead Principal Investigator of the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (MCM LTER) project and the Co-Director of the Hydrologic Sciences Graduate Program at CU. 
Nick Schulte: Nick is an ecologist who studies microscopic algae to better understand how whole ecosystems change if disturbed. He most recently worked in the subtropical Florida Everglades, studying how increased nutrients affect algae species interactions. In Antarctica, Nick will lead the Algae-Ops team that monitors algae in streams across the Dry Valleys – information he and other researchers can use to assess and predict long-term changes in the region.

Christa Torrens: Christa is a hydroecologist and ecosystem ecologist. You could say she looks at the very big picture for stream ecology. Christa is interested in how nutrients and energy flow into and through stream ecosystems, and in the ways that hydrologic conditions impact these flows. This year, She will be looking at nutrient uptake and stream metabolism in three streams, hoping to learn about differences in uptake across an existing biogeochemical gradient in the soils, and about one stream's recovery from siltation/scouring after being impacted by thermokarst. Christa will also lead a crew that monitors streams across the Dry Valleys, maintaining this part of the long-term ecological record for the MCM LTER.