19 October, 1996
In 1991 a state of the art science center, the Cray Lab, was opened at McMurdo. In order for scientist to work at the laboratory, they must write proposals to the National Science Foundation indicating what they intend to accomplish. Because of the limited space and the great expense, only a fraction of the applicants are funded. One of my goals is to take the time to meet some of these unique people and learn about their projects. Yesterday I climbed up Observation Hill with Adam Marsh, a scientist from the University of Southern California. As we climbed I asked him why he was here. He, like everyone I've met here, was happy to explain his project and was even willing to write the following paragraph about his work.
“I am here at McMurdo Station to study how embryos and larvae of a sea urchin grow and develop in this extreme polar environment. There are many marine invertebrate species here and they all must be able to live in seawater that is just at the point of freezing solid (-1.8 C; 28 F). These extreme cold temperatures severely limit the rates of all physiological processes. Consequently, it takes a polar sea urchin embryo over 150 days to develop into a larva, while an embryo from a similar sea urchin in southern California can develop into a larva in only 10-14 days. With the other scientists in my group, we are trying to identify what physiological processes are most affected by cold temperatures and whether or not the polar sea urchin embryos have any unique metabolic adaptations to allow them to survive for such a longer developmental period.”
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