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Rebecca Robinson

Chief Scientist & Principal Investigator 


I have always loved science and getting dirty, and oceanographic cruises are the perfect combination of the two. As a kid, I played in the woods and boggy areas in my neighborhood, ice-skating in the winter, catching fish and poison ivy in the summer. Knowing I loved the outdoors and science, I decided to pursue science in college. Recovering a sediment core during a summer program with the Sea Education Association (SEA) sealed the deal for me—this geology major was going to study the ocean. 


Fast forward 20+ years, and here I am Chief Scientist on a research cruise to study questions that fascinate me and are critical to understanding the role of the oceans in largescale climate on earth. My job is to make sure we accomplish our scientific goals to the best of our ability and safely. I am beyond the moon excited about the chance to spend a few days at McMurdo Station on Antarctica before the cruise, getting a feel for the environment in and around the station.


My research seeks to understand how the oceans and ocean biology interact with climate. I want to know if and how biology responds to climate change, and at the same time did biology

play any role in that climate change? I do not study specific organisms’ responses but rather the response of ecosystems by looking at the biologically important elements, such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen—all essential for life.


Back in the lab, my group will focus on understanding how well we can reconstruct the surface nitrate composition of the ocean in the past using diatom-bound N isotopes. This proxy is used to the study the Southern Ocean, yet it is not well calibrated. Ultimately, our goal is to improve the proxy and make reconstructions more reliable and quantitative.

Colin Jones


I'm Colin Jones, a graduate student who works with Rebecca Robinson at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography. This is my first cruise and first time to the Southern Ocean, and I am thrilled to be going. My undergraduate major was in chemistry, but the opportunity to apply what I had learned to understanding the fundamental processes of our planet drew me into paleoceanography.

During this cruise, my primary duty will be as the Diatom Wrangler (great position titles are a must during research!), in charge of performing nitrogen isotope fractionation experiments on the phytoplankton we find in the surface ocean. This is to make sure that we know and can predict how biological processes occurring at the surface can be evaluated in sediment. A more precise understanding of how these processes in the real world can help with our reconstructions of the past.

During and after the cruise, I will be involved with isolating species that we find and testing their fractionation patterns individually. To that end, I will be collecting live diatom samples all along our cruise path. These will be grown and tested in New Zealand and back at our home lab in Rhode Island, adding important data to our trove.

Pat Kelly


My name is Roger Patrick Kelly, but most people call me Pat. I am a Marine Research Associate at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography. I’ve been going to sea for 15 years, and have participated in cruises studying everything from sea scallop distributions to carbon export to coastal water mass exchange and air-sea gas interactions.  


This is my first trip to the Southern Ocean, and I am very excited about that. I am part of this expedition to help collect samples of water-column particulates using in situ pumps. We are doing this to try and understand the coupling between the water-column particles and the underlying sediments.


My hope is that the samples we collect will indeed tell a story that helps us understand the sedimentation processes in this part of the world.


Jessica Freedman

My name is Jessica Freedman, and I recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island with my bachelor’s in marine biology and a minor in marine affairs. I plan to go to graduate school for a master’s in environmental science and policy in the near future. I have been a lab assistant in Rebecca Robinson’s lab at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography for the past few years.


This is my fifth time out to sea for oceanographic research, but only my second time on a research vessel, my first in the Southern Ocean. It is a unique opportunity to be able to help with the collection and analysis of samples at sea as an extension of relevant lab work on land.


I am beyond excited to watch for wildlife distinctive to the Southern Ocean. Looking forward to this whale-watching trip!



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