Tagging Whales in the Antarctic Seas

On the way to Andvord Bay (Sat., 5/15/10) – Graduation Day
by -- May 17th, 2010

We celebrate our graduate students’ big day

Our Antarctic trip is a wonderful opportunity to conduct world-class research in one of the most amazing places on earth.  But the trip also entails sacrifice, as we are away from home for a long period.  And this year four of the graduate students in our scientific party missed their graduation ceremonies to come to the Antarctic.

Dr. Alison Stimpert graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii; Lindsey Peavey graduated with a Masters in Environmental Management from Duke; Joy Smith graduated with a Masters in Science from Stony Brook University; and Selina Vaage graduated with a Masters in Science from the University of Tromso in Norway.

All four are integral to our work, so we are glad they are here, but each missed celebrating an important moment in their lives with friends and family.  For most of them, graduation happened this weekend in places very far away.

So what to do?  Well, in the great spirit of improvisation that characterizes everything we do on the R/V Nathaniel Palmer, we threw a graduation ceremony of our own.

And like everything we do (OK, some of what we do), planning was crucial.   So we planned.  And planned.  Graduation exercises are all about pomp, circumstance and ceremony, right?

Pomp?  How about Pat Halpin leading the academic procession with an improvised mace?  Graduation

(The mace is also useful as a hand-held radio tracking antenna).

Circumstance?  How about a graduation exercise outside in the snow, just behind the bridge, complete with a formal academic procession and the music to Monday Night Football blaring as we walked? (You’ll have to ask Ari about the choice of music).

MishapX GraduationCeremony?  We were all over ceremony.  First, the balloon hoods, dutifully placed over the heads of the graduating student by their advisor (or a suitable stand-in).  Second, the academic regalia (full float suits and hard hats for the professors, float coats and red hats for the graduating students).  And, last but not least, some quasi-authentic diplomas to lend an air of authenticity (feel free to contact me if you, too, would like an advanced degree).  Joy Graduation

I usually get a little choked up at graduation, but before a tear could start to roll down my cheek, the snow balls started to fly and I had 10 pounds of snow down my back.  Doug was nailed in the face by a rocket snow ball.  Really.  You would think the graduates would have a little more respect for academic institutions, even ones this far south.

So, to our four graduates, their friends, families and loved ones – congratulations, we are very proud of you.

And watch out for snow balls.

Andy

11 Comments

  1. Barret Sinclair
    May 18, 2010

    Snowball Fight

    It sounds like you all really enjoy the people around you which is always a good thing.

  2. Hannah
    May 18, 2010

    Thanks!

    I just want to im sorry about the researchers who had to miss their graduation but thanks for all the research you are doing in antarctica!

  3. Wiley
    May 18, 2010

    FUN!!!

    WOW! All i thought as i was reading this was how awesome that would have been. Skipping graduation to go on this once in a life time experience and having a home-made graduation party/ snow ball fight. This is really cool and it sounds like everybody is getting along well.

  4. Linds' Mom
    May 18, 2010

    Thanks Andy and Crew

    How sweet it is to be among such caring co-workers and friends to honor such an accomplishment. I did shed a tear–of pride for my precious Lindsey and gratitude for her being surrounded by such wonderful TLC to celebrate her great achievement. YEA for balloons and snowballs. Hats in the air…the only way is up for all of you! Miss and love you Linds.

  5. Dee Allen
    May 18, 2010

    Hot and Cold

    Hello all from Sarasota, Florida!!!

    As you all are getting underway, we begin with our first day of dolphin health assessments in Sarasota, Florida. This is a big year, the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the project. The Sarasota family is excited to hear that several of its offspring are venturing off on grand adventures down south, but do know that each of you is sorely missed here. Thinking of the big picture brings a smile to my face, as I can’t help but feel as if we are all connected together in our work and discovery this week, despite our geographical separation. So go and do good things… and remember to celebrate T.F. day with us on Friday.

    Hello also from Kristi Fazioli (Brockway)… my roomie!!!
    Dee

  6. Jackie Stimpert
    May 18, 2010

    Yay, Yea, and Yeah!

    I join Lindsey’s mom in shedding more than one tear. I always cry at graduations, and this one was wonderfully unique. Thanks to all who made the day special for the graduates 🙂

  7. Roberto
    May 18, 2010

    Awesome

    This is so awesome

  8. Megan
    May 18, 2010

    Good Advice

    Andy –
    Definitely sound advice to those graduates in Antarctica – “watch out for snowballs” 🙂 Nice work on the “ceremony”!

  9. Kristen
    May 20, 2010

    Good Thinking!

    That was very thoughtful of ya’ll to make a graduation ceremony for those four graduates.i would have never thought of some of the things ya’ll did!

  10. Southern Fried Scientist
    May 20, 2010

    Congratulations

    Congratulations to all the graduates!

  11. Simcha
    May 20, 2010

    Graduation Party

    It seems everyone had a great time. This would be so much fun!

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