Meet the Team

Kevin Scriber

Kevin1Kevin Scriber, II was born in the city of Washington, D.C. As a youth in Washington, Kevin frequently visited the Smithsonian, the National Zoo, and museums of arts and sciences. The Smithsonian's extravagant, informative, and educational exhibits and tours demonstrated the true size of our world and breadth of Mankind's knowledge to a young Kevin. Visits to the National Zoo with his family illustrated the complexity and diversity of life to him. Provoking him to wonder," how do all these organisms live?" The great number of different species at the zoo told stories of far-off places. Learning about the strange, exotic, and macabre creatures that live in extraordinary environments, one different from the next, interested Kevin. The spectacle of scientific research his dreams seem well within his grasp. The evolution of life histories and the diversification of life made him love science. This is what made Kevin want to study the specifics of how and where organisms live.

Kevin was the first male in his family to graduate High School from Woodrow Wilson SHS High School in Washington, D.C. where he attended Honors and AP courses. The following year he began to attend college at Norfolk State University, choosing to study Biology. In his time at Norfolk State University, Kevin was a member of the Norfolk State University Biology Society; he was a peer mentor and tutor in the Biology Department for two years. During the summer Kevin completed four summer internships at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland during his undergraduate study. Kevin graduated from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia in 2010; again Kevin was the first to graduate college in his family.

In the fall of 2011, Kevin joined the lab of Dr. James McClintock here at UAB. He has done his research on the preferential feeding of freshwater amphipods, Hyalella azteca, for sympatric vascular plants and algae: the roles of chemical and structural defenses and nutritional value in prey selection. He investigates differences in the feeding rates of Hyalella azteca (palatability) for vascular plants and algae as food. Kevin studies the differences in consumption rates when two foods are available simultaneously (preference). Kevin subsequently uses penetrometry, Lowry protein assays, and feeding assays investigate factors that may influence palatability and/or preference; these factors are structural defenses (toughness), nutritional value (protein content), and chemical defenses respectively. Kevin will assist with ongoing research at Palmer Station this season. He is ecstatic about the opportunity to go to Antarctica. After graduating from UAB with his M.S. in Biology, Kevin plans to pursue a PhD. in Biology and a career in academia.

Julie Schram

JulieGrowing up in Washington State in the Pacific Northwest made studying marine biology feel like a natural progression for Julie Schram. Both of her parents were avid SCUBA divers who shared their love and fascination with life under the ocean with Julie and her younger brother. Julie grew up on and around the Puget Sound. It wasn't until she began attending Western Washington University (WWU) and had to choose a major that she decided to formalize her interest in the organisms inhabiting along the shores and under the waters around her. A volunteer internship at a local small aquarium and university classes sparked her interest in the fascinating adaptations developed of marine invertebrates and seaweeds (macroalgae) of the sub-tidal and intertidal zones.

Following graduation from WWU, she worked as a marine educator, doing hands on and inquiry based education on the waters of the Puget Sound. This allowed Julie to share her enthusiasm and what she had learned as an undergraduate about unique adaptations of everything from bioluminescent phytoplankton to red rock crabs and many other aspects of life in the local Puget Sound watershed. While not doing outreach and education on the sailing vessels in Washington State, Julie worked as a laboratory technician for a science group associated with Palmer LTER, as a part of the summer research team at Palmer Station, Antarctica. This is also where she first met researchers from UAB who were also working at Palmer Station doing chemical ecology research.

Julie eventually decided to go back to school to continue her education. Having sparked her interest in chemical ecology research, Julie contacted James McClintock who encouraged her to come to Alabama to work in his lab. In 2008 she began work on her master's degree focused on the effects of ocean acidification on sub-lethal effects and regenerative capacity of Luidia clathrata, a sea star (starfish) commonly found in Tampa Bay, FL. She is currently working on her Ph.D dissertation investigating the some of the effects of climate change, specifically increased temperature and decreased pH, on a few species of marine mollusk and amphipod common around Palmer Station, Antarctica.

Maggie Amsler

Maggie2This trip marks the twenty-second time since January 1980 Margaret "Maggie" Amsler, M.S. will work at Palmer Station. Palmer is a very special place to her for many reasons. The lab at Palmer is named for her undergraduate advisor and mentor at DePaul University, the late Mary Alice McWhinnie, Ph.D. Amsler's first trip was as part of McWhinnie's team.

In 1974, McWhinnie was the first woman named as the chief scientist at McMurdo Station. That season, she and another woman, Sister Mary Odile Cahoon, were the first women to winter at McMurdo Station.

Amsler herself is a part of Antarctica's history. After earning her undergraduate degree at DePaul, she pursued her master's degree and continued her Antarctic studies at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She went later with her husband and fellow researcher, Chuck Amsler, to the University of California Santa Barbara, where she was a staff research associate.

In 1985, Amsler was on the first-ever, U.S.-sponsored winter cruise along the Antarctic Peninsula. She was aboard an icebreaker, the research vessel Polar Duke, while working with researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Amsler's work during her first 12 expeditions to Antarctica followed the same path as her mentor, McWhinnie's: studying krill, a small, cold-water relative of the crayfish and the basis of the Antarctic oceanic food web. Since trip #13 (with one exception), she has worked alongside her husband, UAB biologist Chuck Amsler and her boss, UAB biologist Jim McClintock, initially studying the chemical defenses of marine plants and animals and currently the impacts of ocean acidification on clacifying organisms. She came to UAB in 1996 and has worked with McClintock since 2001.

Because of their numerous contributions to Antarctic science since 1980, in 2007 Maggie and Chuck Amsler were honored by the US Board of Geographic names with the designation of Amsler Island, which is approximately half a mile from Palmer Station. In doing so, they joined colleagues Jim McClintock and Bill Baker, who had points of land near McMurdo Station named for them in 1998.

As with her krill research, the fieldwork on the chemical ecology project includes diving. She has many dives in the frigid Antarctic waters studying both krill and chemical ecology. When not in or on the waters around Palmer Station, Amsler will be found running and cycling in the small gym and when possible cross-country skiing on the glacier; at night sleeping out in her bivy under the Antarctic sky.

Climatic changes along the Antarctic Peninsula are clearly evident with the lack of snow on the glacier coupled with a rapidly receding, vanishing glacier. Skiing and even nightly camping have become sporadic due to warmer air temperatures and moisture conditions. “I don’t go out when it is raining – too sloppy!” Dramatic changes aside, Antarctica remains an amazing environment to experience and continues to fascinate Amsler. Without hesitation, Maggie exclaims “I can’t wait to return!”








James McClintock, Ph.D

Mission Co-Investigator
UAB Polar and Marine Biology Endowed Professor
McClint2
It's so cold where UAB marine biologist James McClintock, Ph.D., chooses to work that in the past he has to drill and blast his way through 10 feet of solid ice just to get to the water where he does his research. But for McClintock, the icy realm of Antarctica is his passion, as is teaching UAB students, K-12 students, and the general public about the dramatic ecological impacts of rapid climate change on the marine life of the Antarctic Peninsula.

In fact, McClintock became a teacher because, "I love getting students interested in science." He also loves Antarctica, which he once described as being "like visiting another planet ... a fabulous, wild frontier where an incredible number of exciting discoveries are just waiting to be made."

Although McClintock, 58, will be working from UAB during this National Science Foundation-funded expedition that focuses on studies of potential impacts of ocean acidification on calcified marine organisms, given his fourteen past field expeditions to Antarctica – he will be sharing vicariously in the field season at Palmer Station and contributing regularly to the blogs on this web site.

McClintock's work in Antarctica in previous years earned him a distinction that few living people in the world have: a spot on the coast of Antarctica named McClintock Point in his honor by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. McClintock Point is at the end of a three-mile stretch of land known as Explorers Cove, where he has conducted much of his work. McClintock's work has been featured in numerous articles in publications, including American Scientist, the Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Nature, and the Wall Street Journal. His popular book Lost Antarctica – Adventures in a Disappearing Land released in October 2012 and written for a broad general audience has garnered national acclaim and excellent reviews by the likes of Bill Gates, EO Wilson, and Sylvia Earle. Interested readers can learn more about the book and where to purchase it at www.lostantarctica.com.

McClintock's passion for nature is reflected in his marine research, which is intellectually challenging and physically demanding. He keeps in shape and indulges his love of the outdoors with several activities, including playing racketball, camping, hiking, mountain biking, running and scuba diving. He also plays the guitar and sings; his preference is folk music.

Charles Amsler, Ph.D.

MISSION CO-INVESTIGATOR 
PROFESSOR, UAB DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGY
Chuck

When Chuck Amsler arrives in Palmer Station in February 2013, he’ll be going back to a place with many fond memories.  Amsler, 54, is a marine algal ecophysiologist, meaning he’s a biologist who studies, among other things, the physiological adaptations of algae to their environments. That includes macroalgae, large marine plants also known as seaweeds.Amsler made his first trip to Palmer from December 1985 to March 1986 as a volunteer field assistant with a team of researchers from the University of California - Santa Barbara. That team included Amsler’s wife, Maggie, a biologist who was then making her fourth trip to Antarctica. She is also a member of the current UAB team making her 22nd research expedition.

“I wanted to find out why my wife kept leaving me for three months a year,” Amsler said with a laugh. Besides giving him a common ground with his wife, Antarctica grabbed the young researcher’s imagination. “I became excited about the scientific opportunities there on that trip and immediately began trying to get back to do my own work.”

He returned to Palmer in 1989 at the behest of the National Science Foundation to assess the damage caused by a shipwreck and oil spill off the coast. Since then he has lead or co-lead ten expeditions to Palmer Station between 2000 and 2013 looking at the chemical defenses of marine organisms and the effects of increasing sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification on marine orgamisms. On eight of those expeditions, he has also served as the overall Station Science Leader.

In 2007 the US Board of Geographic names designated an island close to Palmer Station as Amsler Island in honor of Maggie and Chuck Amsler's contributions to marine science in Antarctica over the past three decades.

wow ant: researchers between dives 27.jpgChuck and dive buddy.
In the 11 years between his second and third visits to Palmer, Amsler was part of three research expeditions to McMurdo Station Antarctica. Two of the trips to McMurdo, in 1997 and 1998, studied the chemical ecology of invertebrates, algae, and bacteria, The third trip, soon after Amsler came to UAB in 1994, studied the ecophysiology of microalgae that live in sea ice. Amsler looks forward to his upcoming trip back to Palmer. With about 40 researchers in residence, Palmer is “another world from McMurdo,” a station with sometimes over 1,000 people living there.

“Both Palmer and McMurdo are wondrous places to live and to do marine biology,” Amsler said, “but they are about as different from one another as two places can be.  I'm very much looking forward to being back at Palmer for another season.”

Kate Schoenrock

Kate2Kate Schoenrock grew up in Half Moon Bay, California, exploring the intertidal, in the waves and on the beaches, and later diving in the kelp forests between Big Sur and Marin county in California. By the time she went to college at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC), she knew that she wanted to be a marine biologist. She began her work experience in a marine mammal physiology lab where she spent three years as an assistant animal trainer. However the field of marine mammal physiology is limited and did not encompass the questions that most interested Kate. She went on to work for a graduate student in a field ecology lab her senior year at UCSC, and did her senior thesis using SCUBA to conduct studies of macroalgal diversity along the Big Sur coast in California.

Her work in Big Sur developed into a three year career as a research assistant and diver for various graduate students and professors at UCSC, as well as the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Geological Survey based out of Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay. During this time period she was privileged to work along the central coast of California, the coast of Kenya, and with the US Fish & Wildlife Service on Midway Atoll. Kate regards her work experiences up to this point as the best textbook in science anyone could obtain. During her work as a research assistant Kate instructed undergraduates in a marine botany lab and taught an undergraduate, now PhD hopeful, how to do research. "The most gratifying thing about research is using it as a teaching tool. The stories that come out of field research help people grasp some of the most difficult concepts in biology in a fun way."

Kate joined the UAB research team in 2009 to research filamentous species of algae (endophytes) which form symbioses with larger species algae when they grow throughout the surface of their blades. She is now working on her PhD at UAB which continues to investigate the relationship between the endophytes and their host algae. "From an evolutionary angle, endosymbioses are incredibly interesting. In such an isolated place as Antarctica this relationship between algae could drive adaptation and give us insight into communities that we haven't had before." She will also look at climate change impacts on the subtidal algal community using increased temperatures and decrease seawater pH as representative parameters. She has always had a great interest in algae wherever she has worked, and is extremely excited to continue her research in Antarctica. After graduate school Kate hopes to continue teaching and research in algal ecology and physiology.