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Page Share Cite Suggested Citation:"5. Frontiers in Polar Biology in the Genomic Era. The Arctic and Antarctic polar science communities now have unique new opportunities to use multidisciplinary research and an array of new technologies to address questions that seemed unanswerable just a decade ago. However, success will require collaboration and interchange of information. Collaborations whether interdisciplinary, national, or inter- national are typically more difficult for polar researchers than for scientists working in other regions. This chapter explores some of the impediments to collaborative efforts and possible avenues for improving collaboration.
Enhancing data inte- gration, syntheses, and knowledge in turn presents more opportunities for polar studies to be seen as integral for comparisons to other eco- systems and the biosphere.
To achieve its goal, ARCSS promotes the understanding of physical, geo- logical, chemical, biological, and sociocultural processes of the Arctic system. ARCSS has been successful in uniting polar scientists from vari- ous disciplines by supporting large integrated research projects that are proposed and implemented in response to science plans developed by the scientific community through Science Steering Committees.
Furthermore, ARCSS has been particularly good at using web-based and e-mail com- munications to broaden participation and the sense of community. Lessons from that program could benefit polar biology, especially should there be a genome initiative. Working Groups and Workshops Strengthening interactions within the polar community can be accel- erated by providing new opportunities for small amounts of funding for scientific workshops and working groups. This approach allows teams of scientists that work on the same or many different organisms thus, many disciplines within a particular habitat lakes in the Antarctic, soils in the Arctic, ice shelves , as well as between poles lakes in the Arctic and Antarctic, and so on , to share information from various techniques and to develop new insights.
NCEAS has held a series of meetings over one to two years involving different participants. A key activity of these working groups is funding risky projects to address novel scientific questions and to support syntheses that might not be funded through traditional NSF channels.
Easy access to data from many sources bioinformatics for genomes, environmental data is essential. Statisticians familiar with metadata and other statistical analyses, as well as scientists experienced in geographic information sys- tems GIS and modeling are frequently integral to the workshops. A recent NSF review NSF, highlighted the success of NCEAS work- ing groups for the advancement of new theory and concepts, integration and synthesis of science, and facilitating communications across disci- plines.
AOSB charged a small group of international scientists the Science Coordination Group to define the scientific needs and to coordinate the execution of research. International, Multidisciplinary, Integrative Funding Initiatives As genomics technologies begin to be applied to the study of physi- ological mechanisms of polar organisms and their response to physical stress, the need for international multidisciplinary research will likely emerge.
The sequencing and analysis of the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, carried out by the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative com- prised of scientists from large and small laboratories in the United States, Great Britain, France, and Japan, represented a successful model for col- laboration among international scientists with expertise in genomics, bio- informatics, and plant biology.
Representatives of the six groups met to discuss strategies for facilitating international cooperation in com- pleting the genome project and to establish a memorandum of under- standing. The first was the willingness of the participating laboratories to work as a team to ensure that the project proceeded as quickly as possible.
In many cases this meant that original work assign- ments were revised so that all laboratories were operating at maximum capacity throughout the project. Second, the distributed workload meant that the costs of the project were shared by funding agencies within the participating countries.
Development of an integrated, international, and multidisciplinary polar genome initiative is likely to require cross- directorate funding within the NSF as well as funding by other agencies.
At NSF, integrative biology and genomic research is funded by the Direc- torate of Biological Sciences, whereas polar research and logistical sup- port are primarily funded by the Office of Polar Programs. Thus, administrative coordination across NSF directorates and among funding agencies will be essential to facilitate integrative genomic research in polar regions.
Existing multidisciplinary research programs can also be comple- mented by the polar genome science initiative described in Chapter 3. The network is a collaborative effort involving more than 1, national and foreign scientists and students. It promotes syn- thesis and comparative research across sites and ecosystems and among other related national and international research programs over long tem- poral scales.
The long-term envi- ronmental datasets from the LTERs and information gathered by new genomic technologies allow scientists to determine how organisms may change, adapt, and evolve in response to the changing environment.
LTERs also allow comparative genomic studies on organisms in compa- rable conditions at both poles that could answer a number of the research questions outlined in Chapter 2.
Perhaps the most important is the significant role that polar ecosystems play in global- scale phenomena. Polar organisms, while fascinating examples of adap- tation to environmental extremes, also have a strong bearing on under- standing ecological systems at lower latitudes.
For example, because of their sensitivity to rising tem- peratures, polar organisms could offer an early glimpse into phenomena that may occur in ecosystems throughout the world. The diminishing health of polar organisms and ecosystems is already impacting the daily lives and health of the indigenous people of the Arctic.
Therefore, it is important to learn more about polar biology and to communicate what is being discovered widely and rapidly.
Efforts to educate the public about polar science could be targeted at a wide range of lay and scientific audiences. The key mechanism for reaching nonscientists is the mass media. To reach young people, science texts used in secondary and university-level education have to include information about polar organisms and ecosystems.
They should convey both the excitement of the polar environment and the relevance of the polar regions to pressing questions, ranging from insights into how bio- molecules like proteins work, how new types of adaptive traits arise, and how global climate change disrupts the functioning of individual organ- isms and ecosystems as a whole. This same sense of excitement and challenge has to be conveyed to the research community in order to attract to polar science the types of expertise needed and a next generation of creative minds.
There are three general target audiences that could be reached through educational and outreach efforts: 1 K and college education, 2 the research community, and 3 local communities in the Arctic region. Although a text devoted to polar biology might not be suitable for introductory-level classes, upper- division undergraduate classes and graduate seminars might be excellent contexts for presenting the information in such a book or monograph.
Technology exists for transmitting in real time or recording for later presentation the field studies being carried out by polar biologists.
An example of how this technology might work is provided by the real-time transmission of activities on oceanographic vessels, for example, the activities of manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles ROVs. Live contacts with the scientists participating in these expeditions have proven to be an exciting and educationally successful mode of communicating science.
Field expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic for teachers and students allow them to see first-hand what polar organisms are like, how they interact, and how they are studied.
Web sites could provide attractive, informative, and up- to-date exposure of new audiences to polar biology. A successful model is the web site for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Ocean Exploration program, which featured real-time images and "log" updates by scientists during the first biology exploration of the deep Canada Basin in September Provision of curricular materials that can be downloaded from a web site could improve the instructional value of polar biology.
If the media are to present increased coverage of polar biology, then polar biologists must fully engage existing university and other institutional resources for contacting the media and explaining why their work merits press, radio, and TV coverage or assume that burden directly. Training and media programs such as the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program also teach academic environmental scientists to communicate to the public and media effectively and offer another means of training scientists and their graduate students to inter- act with the media.
The Antarctic integrated biology course that was offered for six years in the Crary Laboratory at McMurdo Station might serve as an appropriate model. No, this one is different. Before looking at the positive aspects of this book, let me give you an assignment. Go around your office and your neighbor's office and find some older versions of introductory textbooks.
Maybe you found a first edition of Fundamentals of Physics by Halliday and Resnick first published in That's a pretty cool book. Now look through the old book and compare it to the textbook you are currently using. Just as a note, I'm not a big fan of the sidebar info in textbooks. If it's important, then put it in the text. If it's unimportant, then just leave it out. So why do we keep using essentially the same format for physics textbooks for over 50 years?
I call this Academic Inertia. If you are a physics faculty, you probably took undergraduate physics at some point and that course probably used a textbook. So, when you have a choice of textbooks you would feel comfortable with a textbook similar to the one you grew up with, right?
I suspect this is what happens in physics departments across the world and maybe even in the whole universe. But students use the textbook at least they are supposed to , and not the faculty, right? Yes, this is true. However, the faculty pick the textbook and not the students. What does this mean? This means that if a publisher wants to sell a new textbook, they need to market it to faculty and not to students. It's kind of weird when you think about it. Ok, so why should you consider Matter and Interactions?
Here are some reasons. It's Not Your Textbook —————————— Go ahead and compare the table of contents with your current textbook and that from Matter and Interactions. It's different. Different isn't bad.
The Matter and Interactions content is more focused on the fundamental ideas. It isn't a giant book that contains a bunch of stuff that you will never get to in just 2 semester. Now, don't get me wrong.
Fluid dynamics and sound levels are both cool and important. However, you just can't cover everything in a one semester course. Often times, students come into the intro college physics course after taking HS physics. With a traditional textbook, the course tends to start with kinematics and then move to forces and things like that. The problem is that some of these students think this is easy and that they have covered it already.
They fall into an illusion of understanding that encourages them to NOT spend much time on physics. Well, of course they are wrong but they don't realize how far they get behind until around the section on energy. By then, it's often too late to catch up.