The University of Maine's
federally funded Antarctic science program, one of the most active in
the United States, traces its beginnings, in part, to a 1960 research
trip to the southern continent. Robert Nichols (far left), who taught
geology at Tufts University, inspired generations of students to study
Antarctica's ice sheets and landforms. Those students included Harold
Borns and George Denton (second and third from the left, respectively),
soon to be two of UMaine's leading scientists.
In this photo, taken at Marble Point near McMurdo Station, the main U.S.
Antarctic base, Borns was an assistant professor at UMaine, and Denton
was a Tufts undergraduate, as were (left to right) Roger Hart, Ellory
Schempp and Parker Calkin. Calkin continues to collaborate with the
Borns and Denton met on this expedition, pulling sleds and making
observations in the Transantarctic Mountains. Both later studied glacial
geology at Yale University, where Denton earned his Ph.D. and Borns was
a postdoctoral fellow.
In addition to his studies of ice sheets and glacial landforms in North
America and Europe, Borns served three years as Program Manager for
Glaciology for the National Science Foundation. Presently, he is leading
the creation of an Ice Age Trail in Down East Maine. A member of the
National Academy of Sciences, Denton has been recognized internationally
for his groundbreaking research, receiving the Vega Medal in Sweden in
1990 and, in 2004, an award from the Italian Academy of Sciences.
Recipients of the Antarctica Service Medal, Denton and Borns have had
glaciers and other landscape features on that continent named for them.
Many of their students are active in glacial geology today, and some,
such as UMaine Assistant Research Professor Brenda Hall, continue to
work in Antarctica.
UMaine is now the home of the U.S. International Transantarctic
Scientific Expedition led by Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate
Change Institute and former student of Parker Calkin. In the past four
decades, UMaine scientists have focused on the biology of the Antarctic
Ocean and factors underlying the growth and retreat of ice sheets.