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For three years I have taught Environmental Science and Chemistry at Mother of Mercy High School in Cincinnati, OH. Our school provides an academically, culturally, and socially diverse environment dedicated to the education of about 640 young women. During the 1999/2000 school year, I will be teaching 9th grade Environmental Science, 10th grade Biology, and 11th/12th grade Chemistry and Chemistry In The Community. It will be a challenging opportunity incorporating so many aspects of polar studies into this varied course load!

In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I co-moderate an environmental organization, the G.R.E.E.N. Club. I am also charged with organizing and facilitating an after-school tutoring program operated by the National Honor Society and I act as a group leader for junior and senior retreats.

In 1981 I completed my Master of Science degree in Biology and began a career as a microbial research analyst/assistant. For the past thirteen years I have worked for several academic institutions (Southern Illinois University, University of Oklahoma, University of Kentucky) and served as a senior microbiologist for a United States Environmental Protection Agency contract laboratory. I have studied microbial ecology, recombinant DNA, and drinking water microbiology. I am looking forward to getting involved again in a research program involving microorganisms (see project description)!

Away from the school/work environment, I spend most of my time being "Mom" to Cal, my 12 year old son, a soon-to-be 7th grader at St. Gabriel Consolidated School. I enjoy reading, watching movies, and observing the wildlife that frequents my suburban apartment feeding station! I am also active in my parish, St. John The Evangelist Catholic Church, through its Christ Renews His Parish program.

The photographs of Antarctica adorning the walls of the office of Dr. M. Pryor at Morehead State University in Kentucky have always fascinated me. They depict a stark, cold landscape of blue, white, and black. Now, Dr. Pryor, thanks to the NSF and TEA program, I will be able to experience those landscapes!

Control of Denitrification in a Permanently Ice Covered Antarctic Lake: Potential For Regulation by Bioactive Metals
Dr. Bess B. Ward, Princeton University

While in Antarctica, we will be living at McMurdo Station and most of the laboratory work will be accomplished at this site. We will also be collecting samples in the Dry Valleys to the east of McMurdo Station. Specifically, we will be looking at microbiological activity in Lake Bonney, a permanently ice-covered lake in the Taylor Valley.

Lake Bonney has two 40 m deep lobes with dissimilar chemical profiles. In the anoxic layer of the west lobe, the most prevalent nitrogen compound is ammonium while in the east lobe, nitrate dominates and both nitrite and nitrous oxide are present at unusually high levels. These chemical distributions indicate that the process of denitrification is inhibited in the east lobe of Lake Bonney, while it appears to proceed normally in the west lobe.

Bacteria that carry out the process of denitrification have been isolated from both lobes of the lake. If the denitrifying bacteria are present in both lobes, why doesn't denitrification occur at both locations?

Our research in Antarctica will focus on the role that bioactive trace metals (Fe, Zn, Cu, Cd, Mo, Mn) play in the regulation of the denitrification process. We will determine the distribution of bioactive trace metals in both lobes of the lake and describe the trace metal requirements and limits of denitrifying organisms that we isolate from the lake.

Why is this research project important? The information from this four year project will be used to demonstrate the role of metals in the regulation of nitrogen metabolism in microbial populations. It has been suggested that small changes in denitrification/nitrogen fixation in marine environments may affect the availability of global fixed nitrogen, which would affect primary production, carbon dioxide consumption, and the carbon cycle.

Polar Classroom Activities:

Microbial Life in Extreme Environments

Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold - Microbial Life in Hot Springs and Antarctic Lakes

A Breath of Fresh Air! - Oxygen Tolerance in Bacteria

Living Without Oxygen - Oxygen Tolerance in Bacteria

A heartfelt "thank-you" to Brett Richart of Kodak's Cincinnati Qualex Division for providing photographic supplies and processing to this project!

Sharon will explore the lakes of the "Dry" Valleys. Photograph courtesy of John Anderson, Rice University.

McMurdo Station and the Dry Valleys will be "home" for Sharon during her research experience in Antarctica.

The Dry Valleys (yellow) receive little precipitation. They are one of the few locations in Antarctica not covered by ice and snow. Several lakes, fed by glacial meltwater, exist in the Valleys. These lakes host unique ecosystems.

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