I’m biological oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island and I’m an associate professor in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences and the Graduate School of Oceanography. My work is focused on the microbes that live in the ocean and on this cruise I’m particularly interested in following the dynamics of diatoms, a photosynthetic microbe that lives in glass houses made of silicon. These organisms are one of the important food sources for krill in the Southern Ocean. It’s especially exciting to be looking at these organisms that function in the ocean like plants in the winter. We don’t know much about which species to expect and how abundant they will be. Many diatoms can adopt a unique cell morphology that they use to survive cold and dark conditions, and sampling in the middle of winter close to the South Pole gives us a unique opportunity to look at the extent of this process. To follow diatom diversity I use methods based on their DNA sequences and these methods are that are similar to those used in forensic biology. The best part of being on an oceanographic research trip is working with other scientists and I’m looking forward to being part of this exciting team and communicating with you as we embark on our adventure.