Marine biochemist Adam Marsh is really cool, especially when he's conducting research in the icy waters off the coast of Antarctica.
Marsh, who recently joined the faculty of the UD College of Marine Studies, has been diving in the frigid ocean surrounding Antarctica to learn more about the marine life that dwells at the "bottom" of the Earth. He's examined sea urchins, fishes, and corals. He's come face to face with penguins and seals. And he's even had a close encounter with a pod of killer whales.
On Thursday, May 18, at 7:00 p.m., at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, Marsh will share his polar adventures with the public during the free lecture "Some Like It Cold: A Voyage Beneath the Frozen Seas of Antarctica." The presentation is part of the college's Ocean Currents Lecture Series, which will be held once a month at the Lewes campus through September.
"Antarctica is such a vast plain of ice that it's often called the 'White Desert,' " Marsh notes. "But in the nearby ocean, under the 8-foot-thick sea ice, you wouldn't believe how incredibly beautiful it is," he says. "There is a rich community of sponges, sea urchins, corals, fish, and other organisms in spectacular colors ranging from bright reds to oranges and purples. The colors actually rival those of a coral reef."
In addition to sharing breathtaking underwater photography and video clips of Antarctic sea life, Marsh will highlight the living and working conditions at his outpost at McMurdo Station on Ross Island; his visit to the South Pole; and the progress he's making in his polar studies.
Marsh's research, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on learning more about the early life stages of the Antarctic sea urchin (Sterechinus neumayeri). This animal resembles a pincushion, with long, red spines extending from its round shell. It lives on the seafloor and uses its spines or sucker-tipped tube feet to move about.
Specifically, Marsh is working to find out how the Antarctic sea urchin's embryos are able to develop so well in the extreme cold of the polar sea. The animal's metabolism may yield clues to how organisms develop in other harsh environments, from deep-sea basins with their crushing pressure to local bays where wide variations in temperature and salinity occur.
Marsh received his Ph.D. in marine science from the University of Maryland. He also has a master's degree in invertebrate zoology and bachelor's degrees in zoology and English literature from the University of South Florida.
The lecture will begin at 7:00 p.m. in Room 104, Cannon Laboratory, at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus, 700 Pilottown Road, Lewes. The hour-long talk will be followed by light refreshments.
While the lecture is free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. To reserve your seat, please contact the college at (302) 645-4279.