Tuesday, July 9, 2013

NGEE Arctic enjoys a little publicity

Before leaving for the airport this morning I stopped by the office of the ORNL Laboratory Director, Thom Mason. I don't make a habit of this, but it did, among other things, give me the opportunity to quickly brief him on the NGEE Arctic project.

As I walked into his office, I picked up what I thought was a new glossy brochure highlighting science and technology at ORNL. I was pleased to see that one of those highlights was of our work in the Arctic. The picture that accompanied the article shows Victoria harvesting above-ground plant biomass from one of her vegetation plots last year at our field research site on the Barrow Environmental Observatory (BEO). Victoria is a post-doc working with Rich, Colleen, and others on the vegetation dynamics tasks and has a keen interest in plant community composition and processes like root growth and distribution of biomass throughout the soil profile.

I sent the picture to Victoria who is in Barrow again this summer. A quick response indicated that while Victoria was pleased to enjoy her 15 minutes of fame, she didn't know that it would come in the form of a picture showing her sitting on the tundra, wearing a bug jacket, and holding a pair of scissors. I had to laugh. Getting a career started in global change biology is a tricky business, and I agree that field work can at times lack the glamor of other scientific disciplines! However, I suspect that Victoria will have the opportunity to enjoy many more minutes of fame because of her hard work and attention to detail, I'm glad that she is part of the project.

So, what about my NGEE Arctic briefing of Thom Mason? It went well. He has a great understanding of all the work going on across the laboratory. Climate modeling and the importance of field and laboratory measurements that serve to support those models is an area familiar to him. He even had comments about the NGEE Arctic blog. Having thought about it for a few hours now, maybe Thom would enjoy going to Alaska like Martin Keller, Associate Laboratory Director, and others did last year? That was a great trip! Let's see, we could...