Posted on Aug 6, 2018

I’m going to Antarctica! My heart is fluttering even just typing that right now.

I have spent the past five years (five!) working on trying to go to Antarctica. And now, later this year I’ll be spending an entire month there! For me, going to Antarctica is like going to space… only I get to keep that nifty gravity and atmosphere as carry-on luggage.

This is going to be a multi-month endeavor for me and I expect it will be a lot of work as a team of one. This is where all of you come in, because I really could use your help. While my flight and my room/board in Antarctica is covered, all of my time and all the cool equipment that I need to pull off this project is not funded at all. Signing up for my Patreon is a massive way you can help directly fund this project, and also receive some pretty rad rewards like a postcard from me to you stamped from Antarctica!

So, you may be wondering at this point what the heck am I doing there!?

I am going to be exploring the life beneath the ice. A common misperception about Antarctica is that it is barren and lifeless, save for perhaps some penguins. But under the ice exists a microbial “Serengeti” of life and I want to bring you all along on a safari to see it with your own eyes. I’ll be doing video microscopy (shooting video through a microscope) of the weird creepy crawlies that live in this extreme environment.

In addition to creating videos on my YouTube channel about what it’s like in Antarctica, I’ll be sharing what it’s like to prepare for deployment to Antarctica and how you, too, can capture extremophiles (like tardigrades!) in your own backyard with a microscope. Since I can’t take all of you to Antarctica with me, I want to bring as much of Antarctica to you as I can.

I have a lot more to say and share but for now I just want to say thank you to all of you, those who I’ve met in person and those I haven’t yet, for all your support and encouragement over the years and in recent days. This expedition means a lot to me and I couldn’t do it without you.

On that note, I want to specifically thank:

Ken Mankoff for telling me about this opportunity back in 2013. Chris McKay for invaluable advice, encouragement and for helping me get my first microscope. Jill Mikucki for amazing support both on the field and off and being there for me in so many ways. Britney Schmidt and John Priscu (and team) for field support. Gisele Giorgi and Peter Werner, including everyone at the Merritt College Microscopy Program and the San Francisco Microscopical Society for all the education and encouragement. Mike Lucibella, Valentine Kass, Jenny Cunningham, and Peter West for the opportunity and dedication to the program. Lynn Rothschild, Matt Ganucheau, Ian Brunswick, Maryanna Rogers, Marina Gorbis, Seth Shostak, and Josh Greenberg for your support. Matt Bellis, Penny Boston, and Alex Parker for helping improve my grant proposal writing. Caroline Miller for being so welcoming when I was at the start of figuring out microscopes. Matt Biddulph, Lisa Ballard, and so many of my friends for being there for me through ‘thick and thin’ over these past few years. And finally, thanks to the many people who I haven’t met yet who will be helping me while I’m on the ice!