Warner goes on Research Cruise
Though her peers from the class of 2011 have just begun their final semester on the Hill, Annie Warner ‘11J spent the past six and a half weeks on the Great Belt Research Cruise, before returning home February 19. Scientists on the cruise, including Warner, were “doing field work in the South Atlantic, carrying out the first systematic study of the Great Southern Coccolithophore Belt,” according to the Great Belt Research Cruise’s website.
Warner, formerly co-senior class president at the College, realized that she already had enough credits to graduate, and had completed the fulfillments for her environmental science major. “I decided I would go ahead with taking advantage of the opportunity to go on the Great Belt Research Cruise, consider it a great cap to my Colby experience and graduate early,” she said.
While on the trip, Warner worked with Barney Balch, the leader of the cruise and a senior scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences located on the Gulf of Maine. Balch’s research team, the College’s own Dr. Frank and Theodora Miselis Professor of Chemistry Whitney King and representatives from “many research laboratories and universities in the United States and United Kingdom,” took part in the trip, according to the cruise’s website.
“It was really interesting and inspiring to me to hear how all of these people got to where they are today, especially because I’m at the point now where I’m trying to figure out what my next step is going to be,” Warner said.
Warner began her journey on January 5 in Punta Arenas, Chile, one of the southernmost cities in the world. She had the chance to explore the city for several days while her team was preparing for the trip. After this visit, she sailed aboard the UNLOS ship toward Cape Town, South Africa, where she arrived on February 16.
During the trip, Warner began helping Balch’s team with the research he is conducting on coccolithophores, single-celled algae found on the surface of the euphotic zone of the ocean. “Satellite images have shown elevated levels of suspended calcium carbonate—also known as PIC or particulate inorganic carbon—in a “Great Belt” near the sub-Antarctic front of the Southern Ocean,” Warner said. “The purpose of this trip was to confirm that the elevated levels of calcium carbonate detected by satellite remote sensing was indeed representative of elevated concentrations of coccolithophores in this area.”
Warner, who has always loved the ocean, read many scientific papers during her time on the Hill. However, the material began to come to life when she stepped on the UNLOS ship. “I absolutely loved my time at sea!” Warner said. Warner was weary apprehensive about becoming seasick on her journey, but she soon found that a “coast guard cocktail”—a mix of proethazine and ephedrine— quickly quelled any stirs of seasickness. Warner also learned that time was irrelevant at sea; she had to dramatically redefine her schedule as her team entered new time zones. “I am usually a morning person, but my shift was 14:00-02:00, so I wouldn’t go to sleep until 2:30 in the morning, and then [I would] wake up after 11 a.m,” she said.
Aside from this inconvenience, Warner said that her lifestyle on the boat was very comfortable. “The cooks made delicious food,” she said. “I spent my waking hours either working, reading or working out.” Warner quickly became friends with her roommate on the trip, Brittney Honnisch, a senior at Western Washington University and the only other undergraduate on the cruise. Luckily, because Warner and Honnisch were the only people living in their room, they “each took [the] bottom bunk [of a bunk bed], and had plenty of space to [them]selves,” Warner said.
After arriving in Cape Town, Warner said she felt a little “landsick” because she hadn’t been in a car for so long. “I got a little nauseous, which went away pretty quickly, but it was kind of funny,” she said.
Not only did the trip give Warner the chance to complete scientific research and meet inspiring people, but it also afforded her the opportunity to firm up her plans for the her future. Warner said that being at sea “helped [her] determine that [she] want[s] to go to grad school for biological oceanography, so [she’s] going to take a year to get more research experience and then apply to schools in the fall of 2012.” Currently, Warner is searching for a summer-long marine science research job, and plans on becoming Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) scuba certified soon after she gets home.
While they were on the trip, Warner and King posted updates on “Colby at Sea: A Colby Blog of the Great Belt Cruise with Bigelow,” available at http://web.colby.edu/colbyatsea/.