Antarctic Research Group

Current Students

Graduate Students

Andrew J. Christ (PhD Student)

Graduate student Andrew ChristQuaternary West Antarctic Ice Sheet Dynamics: Implications for Climate Change and Global Sea Level Rise

Andrew Christ graduated from Hamilton College in 2011 with a B.A. in geosciences (honors) where he studied the Holocene glacial marine geology of the Antarctic Peninsula. Following graduation Andrew worked in the environmental consulting industry in Denver, CO conducting fieldwork across the western United States. After spending a field season aboard an icebreaker in the Antarctic Peninsula in early 2013, Andrew joined BU in the fall of 2013. He has shifted from glacial marine environments to the terrestrial realm to focus on past expansions of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) onto volcanic islands in McMurdo Sound and the associated response of nearby outlet glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains. Using geomorphologic mapping, cosmogenic radionuclide dating (Be-10, Al-26, He-3, Cl-36), and remote sensing data (satellite imagery and aerial photography), Andrew will determine the nature, timing, and extent of fluctuations of the WAIS during the Last Glacial Maximum and earlier times during the Quaternary. Drawing on past experience analyzing marine sediment records, Andrew will correlate findings from terrestrial archives with results from the Antarctic Drilling Project (ANDRILL) in McMurdo Sound. Additionally he will collect gigapixel-resolution GigaPan® panoramic photographs to conduct remote fieldwork and develop digital fieldtrips to the Antarctic for BU undergraduate geology courses and local Boston schools. Andrew has embarked on three expeditions to Antarctica with BU. During the 2014-15 school year Andrew served as a NSF GK12 Teaching Fellow at the Michael Driscoll School where he taught middle school science classes and used Antarctic research as an applied teaching tool. In the spring of 2015, Andrew was awarded a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Shivani Ehrenfeucht (PhD Student)

Shivani Ehrenfeucht graduated from the University of Colorado in 2014, where she received a B.A. in math and environmental studies (honors) with a minor in biochemistry. Following graduation, she worked for the Seastedt biogeochemistry lab in The Institute for Alpine and Artic Research (INSTAAR) on a project investigating the role of climate change in an observed shift in the composition of a mixed-grass prairie plant community in the Colorado Front Range, with particular focus on invasive species. Shivani is beginning her work with BUARG in the fall of 2016 as a PhD student. She will be applying her theoretical math background to modeling the biochemistry of salts present in the soils of the McMurdo Sound Dry Valleys. She is interested in how the presence of the salts alters the interactions between ice and atmosphere and their role in glacial dynamics. The presence of salt brines, which has allowed the existence of liquid water in conditions which would otherwise not allow it, surely plays a role in the overall dynamics of this environment. She is also interested in examining pore space geometry within the ice and the extent to which this geometry influences ice-atmosphere interactions. Due to the similarities between the Antarctic and Martian environment, she is excited to see how the development of such a model may reveal insights into the Martian hydrologic system.

Donovan Dennis (PhD Student)

Donovan Dennis found his excitement for earth science late in his undergraduate career, but solidified his interest in glaciology and geomorphology while participating in the Juneau Icefield Research Program as an undergrad. On the icefield, Donovan investigated the uniformity of the stable water isotope signal in surface snow--a project he adapted and continued on the Colonia Glacier in Chilean Patagonia. He graduated from Occidental College in 2016 with a B.A. in Geology (honors) and is continuing to study earth science at Boston University beginning in Fall 2016. As a graduate student at BU, he is broadly interested in studying Antarctic glacial geomorphology and paleoclimate.

Undergraduate Researchers in Antarctica

The BUARG is committed to undergraduate education and has a long history of taking undergraduates to the field. Since 1997, 23 undergraduates have accompanied Professor David Marchant as field assistants, many of whom have gone on to pursue careers in Antarctic science.

Emelia ChamberlainEmelia Chamberlain (field assistant 2015) I am a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Environmental Science and Marine Science. I have been an HHMI student/ intern since the start of the BURECS program, and served as one of BU’s first undergraduate Antarctic Ambassadors in 2015/16. Since travelling to Antarctica last fall, I’ve become extremely interested in paleoclimate studies and the marine ecology of the Polar Regions. It’s amazing how climate can change and how diverse ecosystems are able to adapt to, and thrive in, severe conditions. Currently I’m working in lab to understand the origin and age of widespread algal mats that occur in stratigraphic succession within lake ice recovered from Brown Peninsula, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. A better understanding of the size of this lake over time may shed light on local climate conditions and local recession of grounded ice from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. It’s an exciting project for me because it combines both ecology and paleoclimatology, relating the history of this one small lake to the greater regional-scale changes that occurred in McMurdo and southern Victoria Land, Antarctica.

Natalie RobinsonNatalie Robinson (field assistant 2015) I am a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Mathematics and Biological Anthropology. I have been part of the BURECS program since the fall semester of my freshman year. Following a HHMI-funded summer lab internship at BU, I became part of the first cohort of undergraduate Antarctic Ambassadors. I travelled to Antarctica the fall of my sophomore year with funding from the National Science Foundation. I spent nearly two months conducting scientific research on various volcanic islands in the McMurdo Sound. I collected samples of rock for cosmogenic nuclide dating and fossilized algae for carbon dating. Upon my return to Boston, I continue to work in the BURECS lab.

Dan RybarczykDan Rybarczyk (field assistant 2015) My name is Daniel Rybarczyk, and I am a junior in BU's College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) majoring in astronomy and physics. In the summer of 2015 I worked in the BURECS lab studying Antarctic and Martian climate. I also used the lab's Scanning Electron Microscope to identify minerals in Antarctic ash that can be used to radiometrically date ash deposits. Since travelling to Antarctica, I have continued participating in scientific research, studying star-forming regions in the Milky Way. The goals of my current project include a better understanding Galactic structure and star formation.

Undergraduate Interns


Bayley Connors

I am currently pursuing a dual degree in Political Science and Journalism as a sophomore at Boston University. I became interested in joining BURECS during the fall of my freshman year as it combined both my major, chemistry at the time, and interests, communication and outreach. Now, the program continues to offer endless opportunities evne after my majors and interests switched roles. After two semesters of study with BURECS, I will be working as a communications intern with MIT Sea Grant. Throughout the summer I will be writing articles on Sea Grant-funded scientists and their reasearch, as well as working with on various outreach events for the general public. One such event was World Ocean's Day at the New England Aquarium, wherein MIT Sea Grant communicated its research to hundreds of visiting families. When awaraness is garnered alongside enthusiasm at events like this, the role of outreach becomes clear. I am humbled to be part of this process for the summer, and thankful for the support of BURECS and HHMI.


Where are they now?

Former Graduate Students

Sean Mackay (PhD 2016)

Numerical Modeling Approaches to Quantifying Microclimate Zonation and Stability in the Antarctic Dry Valleys: Implications for Terrestrial and Planetary Climate Change

Sean Mackay holds a M.S. in Environmental Management from Oxford University, a B.S. in Physics and a B.A. in Music from Southern Methodist University, and has worked several years as an environmental consultant prior to joining BU in applied research. Coming from private industry, Dr. Mackay draws upon experience working as PI in a research-oriented atmospheric and environmental engineering firm where he gained specialized knowledge in physical modeling of the earth surface and the application of GIS to surface analysis. His interests combined numerical modeling approaches to quantifying glacial and periglacial geomorphic processes with the enhanced use of digital technologies to facilitate earth science investigation and global climate change analysis. His specific research focused on developing a more complete understanding of the processes that govern the evolution and modification of polar debris-covered glaciers, with a specific focus on the extremely ancient buried glaciers in the highest-elevation regions in Antarctica's Dry Valleys. Sean completed field seasons in both Antarctica and Greenland. He was also the senior visualization specialist for the BU ES Digital Imagery and Analysis Laboratory (DIAL). In Spring 2009, Sean received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for his proposed research.

*Current Position: Postdoc, Princeton University; Adjunct Research Fellow, Boston University

Jennifer Lamp (PhD 2016)

Cold-Desert Permafrost and Periglacial Processes: Implications for Climate Change on Earth and Mars

Jennifer Lamp received a B.S.E. in Civil & Environmental Engineering from the University of Michigan in 2006, and a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2009.  At BU, Jen is applying her background in engineering towards modeling the physical weathering and periglacial processes that operate in the hyper-arid, cold-deserts of Antarctica.  Through field, experimental, and numerical-modeling studies, Jen is quantifying the effects of solar-induced thermal stress and salt growth on the mechanical breakdown of rocks in the Dry Valleys; she is also modeling dynamic cryoturbation from freeze-thaw processes that occur in the warmer and wetter regions of the Dry Valleys near the coast. Jen has already completed one field season in Antarctica, and is heading back in Fall 2010.  In Spring 2010, she received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for her proposed research.

*Current Position: Postdoc, Columbia University, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Alistair Hayden (MA 2014)

Remote sensing and field-based investigations of Antarctic landscapes

Alistair earned a dual B.S. in Geological Sciences (high honors) and Interdisciplinary Physics from the University of Michigan in 2011.  His work with BUARG combines digital and quantitative methods with fieldwork to create and improve techniques for analyzing climate change. One project focuses on reducing scatter in cosmogenic nuclide exposure dating, which is one of the main techniques for determining terrestrial ice sheet history. Another project brings traditional mapping into the age of technology, combining field data and digital remote sensing data from the Polar Geospatial Center in DIAL.  Alistair is also extremely active in K-12 education and science outreach.  He maintained a widely-read blog from the field during the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 field seasons as part of a collaboration with local middle schools through the GLACIER project at BU, taught local science classes, and has brought BUARG's research to over 50 science classes in the greater Boston area, Michigan, and Finland. He received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for his proposed research and an NSF STEM Fellowship in GK12 Education and a Fulbright Fellowship to further his work in outreach and education. In the fall of 2014 Alistair started in the PhD program at the California Institute of Technology.

*Current Position: PhD Student CalTech

Christine (Harrington) Brandon (MA 2009)

Geomorphological Analyses and Hydrodynamic Modeling of Relict Subglacial Channels in the Transantarctic Mountains

*Intial Position: PhD Student, University of Massachusetts

*Current Position: Assistant Professor, Bridgewater State University

Dr. Douglas Kowalewski (PhD 2009)

Numerical Modelling of Soil Vapor in Antarctica: Implications for Climate Reconstructions and Preservation of Buried Glacier Ice

*Initial Position: NSF Post-Doctoral Fellow, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

*Current Position: Assistant Professor, Worcester State University

Dr. Kate Swanger(PhD 2009)

Glacial and Periglacial Geomorphology of the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica: Microclimatic Infulences on Cold-Desert Landforms

*Intial Posotion: Bryce Postdoctoral Fellow, Colgate University

*Current Position: Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts

Dr. Adam Lewis (PhD 2005)

Periglacial Geomorphology and Rates of Landscape Evolution in the Western Dry Valleys Region of Antarctica

*Initial Position: Byrd Postdoctoral Fellow, Ohio State University

*Current Position: Assistant Professor, North Dakota State University

Dr. Jane Willenbring (MA 2002)

The glacial history of Vernier Valley, Antarctica: Implications for Plio-Pleistocene Paleoclimate and Ice Sheet Stability

*Initial Position: PhD Student, Dalhousie University

*Current Position: Assistant Professor, Earth & Environmental Science, Univeristy of Pennsylvania

Erika Miller (MA 2002)

Sedimentation in a Former Glacial Lake Along the Southern Margin of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, Concord, Massachusetts

*Current Position: Middle-school Teacher

Eric Moore (MA 2002)

Age and Paleoclimate Significance of Modern and Relict Rock Glaciers in Upper Beacon Valley, Antarctica

*Current Position: Owner, Rustored Salvage

Beth N. Hartman (MA 1998)

Miocene paleoclimate and ice sheet dynamics as recorded in central Taylor Valley, Antarctica

*Current Position: CIA

Former Undergraduate Lab Interns

Craig Einstein (2014-2015)

Current Position: Boston University, PhD student, Department of Computer Science

Rachel Watsky (2012-2013)

Current Position: Student, BU School of Law, Environmental Law

Sabrina Mullen (2010-2013)

Current Position: Hingham Institute, Somerville MA

David Mayer (2007-2010)

Current Position: University of Chicago, Planetary GIS/Data Specialist

Leslie Patrick (2000-2002)

Current Position: Senior Fellow for Modeling and Assesment, Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay

Nick Harmon (2000-2001)

Current Posotion: Lecturer (Assistant Professor), University of Southhampton, Department of Ocean and Earth Sciences

Former Undergraduate Field Assistants in Antarctica

Michael Dyonisius(2011)

Current Position: PhD Student at University of Rochester

Greg Wissink(2010)

Current Position: Geologist at Tetra Tech

Andrew Knott (2008)

Current Position: United States Navy, Lt. Comdr.

Sarah Burns (2002)

Current Position: Peace Corps

Emily Jacesko (Klingler) (2002)

Current Position: Geosyntex Consultants, Staff Geologist

Tyler Cruickshank (1995)

Current Position: Utah Development of Environmental Quality - Meteorologist

Brett Overturf (1994)

Current Position: Archeologist

Charlie Narwhal (1993)

Chip Lagerbom (1990, 1992)

Current Position: Belfast Maine, Highschool History Teacher

John Whittier (1992)

Current Position: Hydrogeologist, Principal at Montgomery and Associates, Tucson AZ

Mark Dubois (1991)

Current Position: Geologist, Natural Resource Manager, Poland Springs Water Company

Jon Florek (1991)

Current Position: Geologist and Superintendent, Detour Gold Corporation

Tom Fenn (1990)

Current Position: Associate Research Scientist, Yale University, Department of Anthropology

Garth Hirsch (1990)

Current Position: Innovative Engineering Solutions, Inc., Walpole MA

Steve Hinshaw (1989)

Current Position: Sitka Alaska and Japan, Math and Science Teacher

Chris Grallert (1989)

Current Position: Partner and Advisor, Green City Growers