Now as a UAB graduate student in marine biology, Mahon will get to see the ocean for the first time all over again – from Antarctica. As an undergraduate he majored in chemistry and minored in biology at Truman State University. He earned his master’s degree in biology from Truman State while doing research Friday Harbor Research Laboratories in the state of Washington.
Antarctica gives Mahon a chance to combine his love for the ocean with both of his degree specialties – chemistry and biology – in one field of research. “The combination of these two degree areas made this project in chemical ecology of Antarctic marine invertebrates and macroalgae perfect for me.”
And although he is a first-timer in Antarctica, Mahon, 24, will be in the company of experienced Antarctic explorers. He said he’s honored to work with top scientists “doing what they do best in one of the unique and beautiful habitats in the world.”
The trip will be as fulfilling personally as it will be professionally. “I get to not only visit Antarctica, I get to scuba dive there. How many people in the world can say that?”
Mahon prepared for the trip by diving regularly to gain the needed certification to allow him to dive into the frigid waters off Palmer Station. He also had to get the pre-trip medical exams necessary before departing for the two-month trip.
The Antarctic expedition will coincide with several major milestones in his life: he is working on his doctoral thesis on Antarctic research, he will turn 25 March 6, just two days after arriving at Palmer Station, and just three weeks after he returns, Mahon is getting married.