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UMaine Today Magazine

Lasting Impression

Researchers at Marble Point
Photo courtesy of Hal Borns

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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 UMaine researchers.

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.


UMaine Today Magazine
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