USDA Posts Blog About Follow a Researcher®

November 2nd, 2017 3:35 PM
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Lynn and Peter in front of a helicopter in AntarcticaUnited States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) posted a blog about Follow a Researcher®, written by guest author Dr. Lisa Phelps, Program Administrator with University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Read the post at 4-H invites students to tag along on Antarctic expedition.


You’re invited to the 2017 National 4-H Volunteer e-Forum

October 26th, 2017 9:07 AM
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The National e-Forum for 4-H Volunteers is in full swing! Last month, we had 114 sites from around the country participate in an evening of learning, sharing and hands-on activities.

The next session STEMming in Animal Science- Growing True Leaders is coming up Thursday, November 2 at 7:00pm.
Session Descriptor: Build on the roots of 4-H as we STEM our way into agriculture and animal science for experienced and new 4-H’ers. Gain resources to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) leaders through traditional animal sciences project areas in communities. Volunteers will gain ideas for planning and organizing fun, educational sessions for youth.

To see which counties are hosting the session in November, go to  Please register by contacting the county office where you wish to attend. Plan to bring a co-leader or bring teens from your 4-H group!

Don’t Miss the November 4-H Fix

October 26th, 2017 9:06 AM
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Ok, so the 4-H Fix hasn’t won any awards yet, but after November 17th lots of folks will say it is championship reading! That’s when the 4-H Fix will be telling the stories of Maine’s 4-H Champions! Visit the 4-H Fix today and glory in the achievement!

Market Steers for Fryeburg

October 26th, 2017 9:05 AM
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4-Hers raising a steer for the 2018 market steer show at Fryeburg Fair need to send in an Intent to Participate Form available at: by January 2, 2018. We appreciate you completing your paperwork early. Please enroll or re-enroll as a 4-H member early, and send your Intent to Participate form to your county office. The earlier we receive your paperwork, the earlier we can begin tagging animals, and avoiding tagging during the winter months.

Follow a Researcher®: How do scientists know what data to collect and how to collect it?

October 25th, 2017 1:40 PM
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Follow a Researcher®

How do scientists know what data to collect and how to collect it?

Catching up, looking ahead, and more scientific practices

In last week’s video, Lynn described asking questions and defining problems to direct her focus on the problem of global sea level rise, and its connection to the stability of Antarctic ice shelves. Another step in Lynn’s process was to gather and evaluate information from suggestions made in previous research studies and observations of past events to help develop some testable research questions.

This week, we revisit those questions as Lynn explains how they are used to make decisions about what data will be needed to help answer those questions, and making plans to identify the best locations and methods to gather those data. Lynn will discuss how she will be gathering and analyzing data, planning and carrying out investigations, and designing solutions to problems.

Like we have mentioned before, these are all practices of scientists and engineers. You might notice that some of these practices will show up more than once and rarely by themselves. This is because the practices are so connected to one another that it is difficult to imagine using only one without one or more others at the same time.

For example, if you saw a puddle of water in the middle of the floor (hopefully before you stepped in it), you would immediately start thinking about how it got there, coming up with possible explanations, planning some ways of testing those ideas, and more! It’s just what we do! It’s what makes us all scientists!

Like us, Lynn is doing what scientists do by using many of these practices to answer questions about the Ross Ice Shelf.

Research questions and how they might be answered

Lynn is asking three questions:

  1. Is the Ross Ice Shelf speeding up or changing its flow pattern;
  2. Are there indications of crevassing within the ice that can tell us more;
  3. What areas of the ice shelf are most important in pushing back glaciers?

In order to answer these questions, Lynn will need to rely on observations of events like the collapse of the Larsen B Ice Shelf, and the research of other scientists. These sources tell us that as Larsen B began to break apart, ice began to enter the ocean much more quickly than before. We also know that there are some signs that indicate how stable an ice shelf is, such as changes in its flow and crevassing below the surface.

Is the Ross showing any of these signs? How can we measure them?


Lynn’s team has decided to collect data from a region called the McMurdo Shear Zone. As we see in the video, this is where the two ice shelves, Ross and McMurdo meet. Since the two ice shelves are moving at different speeds and in contact with each other, a force is caused between the ice shelves called “friction.” This force causes the Ross to move more slowly than it would without McMurdo rubbing against it.

Illustration showing friction between the McMurdo and Ross ice shelves

Friction also causes the ice between them to “shear,” or stretch and break, as it is pulled and stretched by the ice shelves, creating an area of crack and crevasses. Gathering information about these crevasses will also help Lynn answer her questions about the future stability of the Ross.

Is the motion of the ice shelf changing?

  • Thanks to Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, Lynn will be able to collect very accurate data tracking the position of points on the ice shelf using satellites to locate the GPS receivers installed by the team. Later, she will be able to notice if the motion is changing over time.

Is there evidence of crevassing in the shear zone?

  • Using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology, Lynn’s team will collect information about the ice below the surface. As she mentions, the size, distribution, and orientation of crevasses will tell her more about how stable the ice is.

Illustration showing how using transmitters and receivers of Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) technology, Lynn’s team can collect information about the ice below the surface.

Watch your step!

Antarctica is a dangerous place to work, with many of the hazards hidden beneath seemingly flat snow cover. Thanks to problem solving efforts of Dartmouth engineering students and their project director, Dr. Laura Ray, Yeti is up for the challenge. This Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) will drag the GPR unit across the ice to make data collection safer for the team. Additionally, the team has spent the past few weeks participating in extensive safety training before heading out to the field site.

What do you think?

Here are some questions to discuss with your class, or to investigate on your own!

Specific questions:

  • What are some other ways we could use GPR and Yeti?
  • What places would it be helpful to send a robot instead of a human?

Broader questions:

  • Can you think of another time when you needed more information before trying to answer a question of your own?
  • How did you decide where to get the information, and how did it inform your next steps?

Have more questions?

Other resources:

Join the next live chat on Thursday, November 2 at 1:00 PM (EDT) by searching the hashtag: #umainefar. Subscribe to 4-H Follow a Researcher® calendar: iCal HTML

4-H invites students to tag along on Antarctic expedition

October 20th, 2017 11:19 AM
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By Dr. Lisa Phelps, Program Administrator with University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Lynne and other researchers on Observation Hill

Research team hikes up Observation Hill near McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

A unique program in Maine is giving teachers around the country the opportunity to let their students tag along with a researcher in the field. The program shows K-12 students the real-life scientific journeys that a STEM-rich (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education can provide.

Follow a Researcher® is an innovative University of Maine (UMaine) 4-H program that uses technology and social media to connect K-12 classrooms with graduate students conducting field research in remote locations. One student, Lynn Kaluzienski, is using physics and geology to study the McMurdo Shear Zone in Antarctica.

Lynn and a team of scientists, engineers, and mountaineers are conducting scientific tests to determine how stable the Ross Ice Shelf will be in the future and how Antarctic sea ice melt may affect sea level rise. Follow a Researcher® is partially funded by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through UMaine Cooperative Extension.

Lynn’s project is the third Follow the Researcher® expedition. The first expedition went to Peru in March and April 2015 to search for evidence of historic climate change events in glacial snow and ice. The second expedition went to the Falkland Islands in January and February 2016. More than 1,800 youth and 88 adults followed along to help unravel the mystery of how and when the warrah, an extinct species of fox, reached the Falklands and what caused its extinction. More than 2500 youth and 200 adults from 12 states are signed up to follow Lynn’s expedition.

“We give students a glimpse into a scientist’s world by providing live expedition updates via weekly twitter chats. Their questions may be generated by a video or anything else students want to know about the expedition,” said Gregory Kranich, UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H Science Youth Development Professional. “We also provide information on how educators may use this information in their classrooms, including demonstrations and experiential learning activities.”

The K-12 students who tag along virtually are not the only ones who learn from the experience, said Laura Wilson, UMaine Cooperative Extension 4-H Science Youth Development Professional. The researcher also learns from their interactions with the youth.

“The researchers are excited to share their experiences,” she said. “They are eager to deliver the message that being a scientist opens up amazing opportunities.”

One of the special aspects of Follow a Researcher® is that the emphasis is on who scientists are and what they do. Rather than being a content-driven experience, youth participants become agents of their own learning and are able to decide what information is relevant to them. We set the stage, but youth drive the Q&A sessions, pushing their learning beyond the scope we had imagined.

For more information about Follow a Researcher®, call 800.287.0274 (in Maine) or email

ABC7 and FOX22 report on Follow a Researcher®

October 20th, 2017 9:23 AM
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If you ever wanted to follow a scientist, now is your chance. A graduate student from the University of Maine is in Antarctica testing glaciers and bringing students along on the journey with her through social media. Read the whole story and watch the video report by reporter Shonna Narine.

Lynn’s Blog: October 20th — Hurry Up and Wait

October 20th, 2017 8:00 AM
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Follow a Researcher!®
Expedition 3: Antarctica

Lynn’s Blog

October 20th — Hurry Up and Wait

Lynn Kaluzienski

The team sets up pulley systems for Crevasse Safety Training

The team sets up pulley systems for Crevasse Safety Training.

It’s been a busy week at McMurdo Base getting ready for our trip out on the ice. We’re one of the first science teams to arrive this season, and the station is still gearing up after the long winter. Though it’s been a slow start to the season, we’ve accomplished a lot on our To Do List.

First, the team has completed quite a bit of training which includes: Field Safety Training, Environmental Awareness Training, Crevasse Safety Training, Light Vehicle Training, Snowmobile Training, and Helicopter Safety Training. It doesn’t matter if it is your first field season, or 36th (like Peter Braddock, our mountaineer) you have to complete the same list of trainings every year. It might seem redundant, but these seminars cover skills that we don’t practice often and it’s a good idea to have a refresher.

The team packs enough food to feed 6 hungry campers for 2 weeks

The team packs enough food to feed six hungry campers for two weeks.

Second, we’ve packed A LOT of gear, equipment, fuel, and food into boxes and loaded them on sleds to be towed out to our camp ~65km away.

Third, weʼve worked out coordinating efforts with several groups here on base, including the South Pole Traverse, Helicopter Operations, MacOPS (McMurdo Communications), FSTOP (Field Safety Training Operations), BFC (Byrd Field Center for field party equipment), and others. It takes a lot of moving pieces to get science teams like us into the field; none of it would be possible without the support of the amazing personnel here at McMurdo.

And of course, after all of our hustling to get things done we’re delayed by weather.

researchers out in the storm

Lynn’s Blog: “You Never Go to Antarctica Twice” — A Bit About That

October 19th, 2017 8:00 AM
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Follow a Researcher!®
Expedition 3: Antarctica

Lynn’s Blog

“You Never Go to Antarctica Twice” — A Bit About That

Lynn Kaluzienski

The theory is: you either go to Antarctica once, absolutely hate it, and never return; or you keep going back again and again.

RADARSAT Image of the Ross Ice Shelf with the Shear Zone Region outlined in red.

RADARSAT Image of the Ross Ice Shelf with the Shear Zone Region outlined in red.

I’m lucky enough to be part of the latter group and this is my third field season in Antarctica. My team and I will be traveling to a giant slab of ice extending off the coast of Antarctica, called the “Ross Ice Shelf”. The Ross Ice shelf is the largest ice shelf in Antarctica, so in terms of studying it, we need to focus on a particular place, a place where changes would be the most apparent.

My fieldwork focuses on the McMurdo Shear Zone, an area of ice between the Ross Ice shelf and the neighboring McMurdo Ice Shelf. As the fast ice on the Ross Ice Shelf (RIS) side flows past the slower ice on the McMurdo Ice Shelf (MIS) side, it begins to break apart forming what’s known as a shear zone. My main research goal is to understand how this ice is changing with time, which is important to be able to better understand how sea level will rise in the future.

Close Up of Shear Zone Region

Close Up of Shear Zone Region

To do this, my team and I will track how fast the surface of the ice is moving using GPS data. We will also gather information about the ice below the surface, looking for cracks or crevasses using radar technology. Finally, I’ll incorporate all of this data into a numerical model in order to predict how changes in the ice shelf will impact sea level rise, and how much it will rise in the future.

Lynn’s Blog: How I Got Here!

October 18th, 2017 8:00 AM
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Follow a Researcher!®
Expedition 3: Antarctica

Lynn’s Blog

Lynne and other researchers deplane in Antarctica

Lynn Kaluzienski

October 13th, 2017: How I Got Here

This is the third time I’ve stepped off a C-17 military plane onto the McMurdo Ice Shelf in Antarctica, but I have the same thought as the two previous times I arrived at this incredible place:

“How did I get here?”

I don’t mean how many days or flights its taken to get from Maine to Antarctica (though more on that later), but how did I end up studying glaciology in one of the most remote locations on earth? As this is my first blog post, I’ll provide a little background on how I came to be a PhD student in glaciology.

As of six years ago I never would have imagined traveling the world to study glaciers. At the start of my undergraduate career at Emory University, I was head-strong in obtaining a degree in astrophysics. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wasn’t very savvy in the outdoors and it was around this time that I began to explore new activities like whitewater rating, rock climbing, and skiing. A pivotal journey for me was completing a five-month trek along the Appalachian Trail following my sophomore year; I realized that whatever career path I took would require a healthy dose of adventure.

When I returned to Emory, I shifted my focus to the geosciences and was particularly eager to apply my background in physics to geophysical problems. I began working on a research project focused on the exploration of iceberg calving and breakup processes in a laboratory setting. Suddenly I was taking a “hands on” approach to studying a real world phenomenon as opposed to events taking place long ago and light-years away.

My research experiences at Emory would serve as the inspiration to direct my abilities towards problems in the Cryosphere and pursue a career in academia. Following my acceptance into the School of Earth and Climate Sciences at the University of Maine, I began my doctoral degree in glaciology.

Now, six years later, after five consecutive flights and having crossed seventeen time zones, I arrive in Antarctica for a third time. This season I’ll be blogging from the field and participating in the Follow a Researcher® program. Both of these attempts to share my research are fueled from the simple fact that I feel incredibly lucky to be in the field of glaciology, a field which I pretty much stumbled upon by accident.

In this blog I will share my experiences as an early career scientist in the hopes of reaching students who’ve never thought to explore STEM related fields as well as others interested in following science as it unfolds.

Seth Campbell in line to check bags for the flight

Seth Campbell in line to check bags for the flight. (It’s dark because its 6:00 in the morning!)


Lynn walking off the plane in Antarctica

Walking off the plane. The C-17 has very few windows, and it’s an incredible experience to suddenly step out into the cold and take in the view.


Researchers board “Ivan the Terra Bus” for a 45 minute ride to McMurdo Station

All aboard “Ivan the Terra Bus” for a 45 minute ride to McMurdo Station.


Joshua Elliott looking out the back of the bus with Mt. Erebus in the background

Joshua Elliott looking out the back of Ivan with Mt. Erebus in the background.