It’s so cold where UAB marine biologist James McClintock, Ph.D., chooses to work that 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 and K-12 students about marine ecology and the vast snow-swept landscape of Antarctica.
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, 46, will be spending much of his time on this National Science Foundation-funded expedition continuing his research into the ecology and chemical defenses of marine organisms, he will also enjoy himself.
“I’m very excited. And it’s particularly exciting because of the collaboration I developed with Chuck Amsler and Bill Baker that led to this funding,” he said.
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 and Baker have conducted much of their work. Baker also was honored with the naming of Baker Point at the opposite end of the cove. McClintock’s work has been featured in numerous articles in publications, including American Scientist, Nature and the Wall Street Journal.
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 rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains, camping, hiking, running and scuba diving. He also plays the guitar and sings; his preference is folk music.
Nature photography has become another passion. Many of the photographs on the UAB in Antarctica site are his. Although he describes himself as an amateur, his work has been featured in publications related to his research.
McClintock and his wife, Ferne, have two children: son, Luke, 8, and daughter, Jamie, 6, who he hopes one day to introduce to the continent where he has quite literally made his mark. For now, however, he’ll keep his family posted while in Antarctica by e-mail.