Where are you from, and what is your role in Extreme 2002?
I am a graduate student working with Dr. Peggy O'Day and Dr. John Holloway at Arizona State University. During this cruise, I will be analyzing water samples associated with hydrothermal chimneys we will be collecting. Samples will be collected from various chimneys using the SIPPER device developed in Dr. Craig Cary's laboratory. We will also be processing water samples and chimney samples for analysis on shore.
What questions are you trying to answer and why?
The main question we are looking at is how the growth of new hydrothermal chimneys affects the colonization of these structures by microbes, and how the microbes in turn affect the growth of the hydrothermal chimneys that they live on. Specifically we will be looking at new chimneys to see what kind of microbes colonize them first. Analyses of water samples taken on the seafloor before the chimneys are collected will provide us with information on the chemical environment in these chimneys while they are still active and on the seafloor. The information gathered may tell us how the microbes lived, and how the chimney grew. This information will also help us back in the laboratory, where we do experiments recreating some of the conditions found in these environments, in order to better understand how hydrothermal chimneys and microbes grow in nature.
Why is this research important? What are the benefits?
I think that the main reason that this type of research is important is that it can begin to tell us how microbes affect the environment they live in, and how the environment affects them. By looking at a dynamic environment such as seafloor hydrothermal chimneys, we can see how rapid changes in either the microbes or the chimneys affects the other, possibly providing us with clues as to how these two parts of the same system have evolved together over time.
What's your background and what lured you into marine science/education?
I was born in Connecticut and grew up on a small farm. The "hands on" nature of life on a farm got me interested in machines at a young age. This is part of what attracts me to this type of research, where different types of sampling devices, experimental equipment, and other types of machines are developed, tested, and redevloped.
I got my B.S. in geology from the State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook, and I am currently a Ph.D. student at Arizona State University in the Department of Geologic Sciences. I would have to say the main thing that has lured me into marine research is the interdisciplinary nature of my work and the work within my research group concerning seafloor hydrothermal systems. The interactions of scientists from different fields interested in the same environment provides an exciting and rewarding environment to work in.