At Palmer and within the Antarctic Program in general, our group is known as S-022 for "Science group number 22." That is actually an old designation. Formally in current terminology we are known as B-022-L/P which indicates that we are a Biology group (the B) that works from Palmer Station (the P) and (in our case, only a little) from the research vessel Laurence M. Gould (the L). But in common usage, we are just "S-022."
S-022 is a collaborative effort between Jim McClintock's and my groups at UAB and Dr. Bill Baker's natural products chemistry group at the University of South Florida (USF). Bill and another USF team member will be coming into Palmer with Jim in about 6 weeks but one of his group is deploying now with Anne, Kevin, Maggie, and me. Her name is Hla Win (don't pronounce the "H") and she's a great addition to our group!
This is Hla's first deployment to Antarctica and the Drake Passage crossing we are on is her first ever sea voyage. We had some rough weather after leaving the Straits of Magellan and coming into the South Atlantic which bothered Hla and a lot of others on the ship but as I write this from the completely exposed Southern Ocean (we have been in the Drake Passage for about 13 hours) she has her "sea legs" and is doing great.
Hla was born in Burma and lived there until she was 10 years old. Then she moved with her family to Singapore where she went to high school. From there, she moved to Canada where she got her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from the University of Winnipeg. During her senior year she did an honors project on natural products chemistry and she got hooked.
Based on her undergraduate mentor's advice, Hla decided to join Bill's lab at USF to do her Ph.D. work. She's been there for two years and is working on a project that involves the structural elucidation of defensive compounds from macroalgae and sponges. That means that she is using fairly sophisticated chemical methods to figure out what atoms a molecule is composed of and then what order they are arranged in. She is also going to be figuring out how tunicates ("sea squirts") synthesize a group of compounds called eudistomins that have potential use in medicine. That's all a lot of work!
When she isn't studying chemistry, Hla loves to swim, run, and go to the gym to exercise. She is also an avid lover of dogs and cats. She's certainly excited about our expedition to Antarctica and we are very fortunate to have her on the team!