Global Connection: Antarctic expedition

James Kennedy, Regents Professor of biology, above, and Tamara Contador ('06, '11 Ph.D.), University of Magallanes professor, studied this spring in Antarctica as part of the Chilean Antarctic Institute's 51st Antarctic Science Expedition. (Photo by Gonzalo Arriagada)For nearly a month this spring, James Kennedy, Regents Professor of biology, and Tamara Contador ('06, '11 Ph.D.), a professor at the University of Magallanes, braved chilly weather and icy conditions to conduct research in Antarctica.

They were joined by teams of scientists from across the world to study the continent's marine and freshwater ecosystems and climate change as it relates to native species as part of the Chilean Antarctic Institute's 51st Antarctic Science Expedition

The large undertaking involved 25 research projects and more than 200 scientists and Chilean Navy personnel. Scientists canvassed an area that included Antarctica and the South Shetland Islands, an extensive archipelago.

Kennedy served as an international collaborator on a research team led by Contador. The team traveled aboard the Chilean Navy AP-41 transport vessel Aquiles to study sites to focus on geology, entomology, microbes, plant life and animals. In assessing Antarctica's plant life, world scientists hope to find potential uses in applications for pharmaceutical, textile and food industries.

"This was a very noteworthy expedition," Kennedy says.

Kennedy, a founding member of UNT's Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program, co-teaches UNT's annual wintermester study abroad course, "Tracing Darwin's Path," in Puerto Williams, Chile, the world's southernmost town and the site of the UNT Cape Horn Field Station.

Kennedy and Contador focused their research on the distribution, phenology and physiology of the Antarctic Midge, the only winged insect native to Antarctica. The midge is being evaluated as a long-term monitor of the continent's climate change.

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