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The ICECAPS generations

Published: at 02:40 PM

The ICECAPS research team prides itself on our track record of producing a long list of amazing graduate students. We’ve been at this so long that we have multiple generations of ICECAPers working on the project. Matt Shupe and I met when I was in my early 30s, and he was in his early 20s. I gave a talk as a postdoc at the University of Puget Sound where Matt was studying as an undergraduate in chemistry. At the time, we were both interested in infrared spectra in the polar regions. So, Matt’s advisor invited me to give a talk on my work in Antarctica.

Von Walden, the author of this blog, shovels snow for anchoring the solar panels during a wind storm

Von shoveling snow during a wind storm to make anchors for the solar panels.

Matt went on to work at the SHEBA experiment in 1997/1998 and focused on Arctic clouds, and I continued research in Antarctica. Our paths crossed again in the mid 2000s when we collaborated on making cloud observations over Eureka, Nunavut (at 80 N!). After this experiment, and combining ideas pioneered with Mike Town (a former UW grad student), Matt, Dave Turner, Ralf Bennartz and I wrote the first ICECAPS proposal. Over the years, we’ve collectively advised about 15-20 grad students between all of us.

One of the most gratifying things about coming to the end of a career is looking back on the generations of students that I’ve worked with. Matt and I are Gen 1. Two former ICECAPS students, Ryan Neely and Claire Pettersen, are currently principal investigators of ICECAPS-MELT. Mike Town spent many years as a successful teacher, but has recently returned to research and joined ICECAPS-MELT. Chris Cox, who now works at NOAA, is also involved. Michael Gallagher, who played a central role in the current field experiment at Raven is a former student of Matt’s. So, Ryan, Claire, Mike, Chris, and Michael are Gen 2. Both Neely and Claire are now advising their own students, so Heather Guy, Andrew Martin, and Alanna Wedum are Gen 3. I take a lot of pride in the fact that our former students continue to work with us and make such incredible contributions.

This brings us up-to-date. This is likely my last “hard core” field experiment. It’s very clear that I should not be lifting the heaviest boxes any more. In fact, I had to bring a super cushy inflatible mattress to keep my temperamental back in working order. When I saw the size of the 2-person tent that I requested, I immediately realized that it would be nearly impossible for me to get in and out of my sleeping bag. So, I swapped out for a 3-person that I can at least sit up in. But my teammates have my back (literally)! Andrew is 24, Cat is 29, Michael is 35, Matt is 50, and I’m 61, our ages spanning almost four decades. This group has been incredibly productive and fun to work with. Plus, I’ve the joy of learning from all of them; Ninja air fryer, Digiboil electric water heater, super charger battery banks, new music of all sorts (plus a lot of good oldies from my generation!). And perhaps most importantly, I’m learning a few new phrases from Gens 2 and 3: “If you’re feelin ritzy…”, then “send it”. This field experiment is “totally sick”. “Winning!”