Charles Amsler, Ph.D., an Antarctica researcher with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), has been named a program officer for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Polar Programs (POLAR). Amsler will be one of only two rotators in the Antarctic Organisms and Ecosystems (AOE) program, which is located within the Antarctic Sciences (ANT) Section of POLAR.
The position will require Amsler to oversee all grants that cover biology in Antarctica. He will be responsible for assigning panelists to review each grant request and will make the ultimate recommendation for which requests are funded. Amsler will serve as an NSF rotator, which means the post is not permanent – most likely for two years.
“I look forward to a different experience but don’t see this as a career move because I love the research, and I love being a UAB professor,” said Amsler, former president of the Phycological Society of America. “I want to bring back to UAB what I learn and not lose the opportunity to do what I do in the field in Antarctica.”
Amsler was selected by the NSF for his “extensive research and teaching experience in organismal — and cellular-level biology in both polar and non-polar environments.” Since 1985, he has made 16 expeditions to Antarctica, conducting research at Palmer Station, where UAB scientists are stationed, and previously at McMurdo Station.
During his NSF tenure, Amsler will remain on staff at UAB, committing roughly one week on the Birmingham campus for every four weeks he works at NSF headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“The overall benefit is that once I return to UAB full-time, I bring a much better understanding of what defines a good proposal and how the grant process works,” said Amsler, a biology professor in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences. “It also allows me to help UAB’s young researchers in all fields with their proposals, which will help future discoveries and the future of Antarctica and elsewhere.”
Amsler is married to Maggie Amsler, a UAB research assistant who has made 22 research expeditions to Antarctica. In 2007, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names designated an island near Palmer Station as Amsler Island in honor of the couple’s three decades of contributions to marine science in Antarctica.
Amsler begins his new position at the NSF in June.