Antarctic Research Group

Current Students

Post Doc

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.

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.