On Nov. 8th I will depart from sunny California and with a quick one day stop in Christchurch, New Zealand I will be in Antarctica. Now this isn't just a trip to Antarctica, this is the trip to Antarctica. Please allow me to gloat a little bit. After arriving at Scott Base on Ross Island I will begin a 5 day field training course to make sure I survive the expedition I will be taking on. After training, 8 of us will be flown halfway up Mount Erebus where we will acclimatise to the altitude by living in unheated tents for a couple of days. Then we will travel to the top of Mount Erebus to reach the "Lower Erebus Hut" at an altitude of 12,000 ft. We will stay there for 2 weeks doing daily trips to "fields"/fumeroles where the snow has melted away due to hot volcanic gases (did I forget to mention that the Mount Erebus is a active volcano?). The main goal is to collect soil samples and environmental data to examine the microbes living in this extreme environment. At the research station there is a small heated hut for meal times and work, but sleep will still be in the same cold tents with 24 hour sunshine. Dehydrated food and -20 to -40 C temperatures will ensure I lose some weight, but that is an added bonus.
To say that I am excited is an under-statement. Sure it will be hard to be away from my family for a month and the altitude sickness will make me feel like crap, but the chance to go on such a crazy expedition ruled out any chance of me turning it down.
How many scientists, especially those that do bioinformatics, gets a chance to do field work like this!?