Antarctica Special Assignment

Feb 19, 2013 3:26 PM by Suzanne Philippus

Antarctica project has Montana ties (Antarctica Special Assignment: Part 2)

Several Montana State University scientists recently returned from the summer research season in Antarctica. MTN reporter Suzanne Philippus was on special assignment and shares a rare glimpse of what takes place at the bottom of the world.

It turns out that Montana has a lot in common with Antarctica aside from the thermometer.

"Montana State University has been in Antarctica for over 20 seasons," Montana State University President Waded Cruzado said.

More than 60 people from Montana, including eight scientists, call Antarctica home when it's summer there. Summer in Antarctica starts in October, even though it feels like winter in Montana.

"I work at Montana State University as an education specialist and I am the outreach coordinator for the WISSARD project," explained Susan Kelly.

WISSARD is one of the largest inter-disciplinary projects currently underway in Antarctica. It involves drilling a half a mile through the ice sheet.

A boon to the state's economy, millions of dollars are brought in through research grants allocated to Montana State University scientists from the National Science Foundation.

"Our researchers have been there studying new microbial communities that one day might hold the secret for new products, including new discoveries for medicine or for machinery or who knows what," Cruzado said.

MSU scientists were awarded almost $4.4 million from the National Science Foundation this past year.

"The Antarctic program is very important to Montana State University, but I will also say that it is very important for Montana...and to the whole world," Cruzado said.

Meanwhile, the world is watching as scientists from the Bozeman area continue to advance the frontiers of science in the most challenging environment at the bottom of the world.

Wages for support staff are an additional boon for the Montana economy.


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