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UAB in Antarctica
JBM at ATL Wx Channel

The UAB Antarctica team members, faculty, research associate, and graduate students, are all on the lookout to amplify the impact of our educational outreach program, or in the parlance of the National Science Foundation, ‘broaden our impacts.’ This may be accomplished in myriad ways. It might be as simple as telling Aunt Betty in small town USA to be sure and visit the UAB in Antarctica web site and follow our blogs. Chances are pretty good that Aunt Betty will tell Uncle Joe to check out the site, and if you get lucky Aunt Betty may have a friend that teaches 7th grade science, who is thrilled to share the web site with her students. These small multipliers can add up, but they pale in comparison with BIG multipliers.

When Chuck and I were contacted by Ioanna Dafermou at The Weather Channel, we knew we were on to a mega-multiplier (the viewing audience of The Weather Channel is 86 million people.) Ioanna told us she had come across out UAB in Antarctica web site and was captivated by Chuck’s blog on undersea forests and my blog on Antarctic tourism and climate change. Would we be interested in being interviewed for a new Weather Channel Podcast program, she asked? Since Chuck was at Palmer Station, she would explore the possibility of a long distance recording, and in my case, since I was back at UAB, would I be willing to drive over from Birmingham to the Weather Channel building in Atlanta to be interviewed on site?

My drive to Atlanta was all that I expected. Road construction and traffic jams! Entering the maze of downtown Atlanta freeways I found myself appreciating my car’s GPS. The Weather Channel building was larger than I anticipated; modern architecture and multi-story. Ioanna came down to the security desk and after I had clipped my pass card to my shirt pocket she raced off to give me a tour of the main floor before my podcast recording. The layout of the expansive floor was spectacular, reminding me of photos I had seen of the NASA control room during mars landings. Illuminated screens hung everywhere and 30 to 40 staff manned various work stations.

Meterology stars GregNiziolGregForbesleft to right

Soon, I found myself in the science section of the main floor being introduced by Ioanna to Greg Forbes (storm exper on my rightt) and Tom Niziol (winter weather expert on my left), two Weather Channel star meteorologists. Both meteorologists were fascinated to learn about our UAB Antarctic research programs at Palmer Station, and also about the philanthropic Communicating Climate Change Antarctic cruise I lead each year for A&K Travel.

Dr. Marshall Sheperd and JBM

Dr. Marshall Shepherd (Professor of Meteorology at the University of Georgia, imaged above) and Karl Keadle (Recording Expert) introduced themselves and invited me to take a seat at a table with several big fuzzy microphones. Marshall broke the ice with a warm up question and soon we were off to the races – discussing climate change, tourism in Antarctica, our USF/UAB drug discovery program, among other Antarctic topics. Forty-five minutes raced by and soon the recording was complete. Everyone seemed very pleased. By the time this blog is posted on our UAB web site the podcast should be available on The Weather Channel web site. My podcast is expected to reach an audience of over 300,000 people. Not bad for a day’s outreach.

I encouraged The Weather Channel folks to follow through on their plan to do a second podcast with Chuck before he departs Palmer with the UAB/USF team mid-June. And also exciting, The Weather Channel is looking in to getting a film crew to Antarctica to do a 30 min television piece on climate change, and they are interested in working with our UAB team to ensure the film also informs its audience about our chemical ecology research! Exciting news indeed!