TEA Explorer

Hi! My name is Jessica McNair, I was born and raised in Fargo, ND but I have lived in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota for the last 6 years since I started college. I received my undergraduate degree in Geology from the University of Minnesota in 1995 and I have been working in research since my graduation as well as working towards my Master of Arts in Teacher Education at the University of St. Thomas. My major area of concentration is secondary science. I am currently finished with my class requirements for licensure and am looking forward to student teaching when I return from Antarctica at the end of January and then I will finally be an official teacher! I have had many experiences working with youth, including coaching, substitute teaching, tutoring, leading youth in the construction of environmental improvement projects around the Twin Cities through my job with Twin Cities Tree Trust, and through my clinical experiences within the St. Paul Schools.

I have been a research assistant/lab technician for Dr. Amy Leventer at the University of Minnesota now for 2 years. The work I do is primarily on samples from the Ross Sea Sector of Antarctica and now I actually get to go there! I will be a field assistant for an interdisciplinary study concerned with how changes in the polar climate (mainly ocean-atmosphere interactions) influence the marine productivity in the Ross Sea. I am very excited to spend one month out on the ice, based out of McMurdo Station, and one month aboard the RVIB Nathaniel B. Palmer.

I feel very lucky to have this wonderful opportunity to parcticipate in the Teachers Experiencing Antarctica program even though I am not quite an official teacher yet! I think this is a great way for students to see the connection between science taught in the classroom and the cutting edge global change research being done in Antarctica.

Research on Ocean-Atmosphere Variability and Ecosystem Response in the Ross Sea (ROAVERRS)
Principal Investigator: Rob Dunbar, Rice University

This project brings together scientists from many different fields - oceanographers, climatologists, meteorologists, biologists, geologists, geochemists, and others! We are looking at how different parts of the polar climate system, such as wind and temperature, impact productivity of the marine organisms in Ross Sea. We are parcticularly interested in phytoplankton - mostly microscopic algae that live in the ocean water. During our study, we will collect information about:
1) regional wind and air temperature,

2) amount of sea ice cover and sea ice movement

3) sea surface temperature and water movement in the upper ocean

4) primary productivity of the microscopic organisms in sea ice and the upper water column,

4) movement of organic materials and ocean circulation, and

5) abundance, distribution, and respiration rates of biological communities on the sea floor.
The knowledge gained from this research will help us understand how the atmosphere and ocean influence the polar marine ecosystem, an important part of our global ecosystem. We can then make better predictions about how this system may respond to global climate change.

Jessica McNair will begin her Antarctic journey at McMurdo Station. Her investigations will take her to Ross Sea.

November 1996

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