With Government Shutdown Over, 'Science is (Almost) Rolling Again'

With Government Shutdown Over,
‘Science is (Almost) Rolling Again’

Jamie Collins ’11 M.E.Sc., who is now a graduate student in a joint program between MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, had just started blogging about a research trip to Antarctica when the government shutdown threatened to stop his work before it began.

In fact, on Oct. 8 — the day he arrived at Palmer Station on the West Antarctic Peninsula — he learned that the National Science Foundation was effectively cancelling all upcoming U.S. research activities in Antarctica.

But the last-minute resolution in Congress has salvaged the mission. On his blog today, Collins reported the good news: “Science is (almost) rolling again down here on the ice.”

The sense of relief on station is palpable — members of the various science teams are excited to set up their laboratories and begin the meticulous business of sampling and data collection, while newly-arrived support personnel are eager to begin the long list of projects that lies ahead of them this summer. This afternoon, we will move into our new rooms — in one of two dormitories here on station — and take our first official meals as Palmer residents.

While the future now looms a hundred times brighter on the horizon, the mounting uncertainty wrought over the past 16 days by failure of our political system has left everyone exhausted.

Now that the research project is back on, you can keep up with its work on Collins’ blog, “Communicating Under a Cold Sun.”

The work is part of a NSF-funded research program studying the long-term changes in the biology, biochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, and physical oceanography of the West Antarctic Peninsula, which is one of the most rapidly warming regions on the planet.