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A Lovely Surprise

I almost never get interesting mail at work. It’s 99% bills, credit card statements and junky catalogs. With the Covid-19 pandemic ongoing, I am grateful for the hours I’m able to spend in the lab, but sometimes it seems a little grim. This week, I found a large nondescript envelope waiting for me. I had low expectations as I opened it, and was delighted to find an Antarctic Service Award. It is awarded to civilian participants who deploy to an Antarctic research station or vessel and remain south of 60 degrees South latitude for at least 10 cumulative days.

My excitement at getting this award was completely out of proportion to anything I’ve done to deserve it. As you can see, it’s a “participation award” (yeah…I got some of those during childhood as a kid of dubious athletic talent), but it sure is fancy! It reminds me of the times when it was easier to travel and of my excitement of joining the expedition. It reminds me of all the work I did to develop the proposal, prepare for the trip, and conduct research during the cruise. It made me proud to be part of the U.S. Antarctic Program, which manages the amazingly complex logistical needs of its participants. I was proud to have received an award from the Department of Defense. It made me feel a little closer to my parents, who both served in the US Navy, and I think my father would have been proud to hear of it.

It also reminded me of my responsibility to make the most of the opportunity I was given. We have recently published one paper based directly on this research, (led by PhD student Cory Berger, blog post here), but we have lots more to share.