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Current Time and Temperature at Palmer Station
Current time and temperature at Palmer Station

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Headline: The Team

Hugh Ducklow

Hugh Ducklow, Principal Investigator
Virginia Institute of Marine Science

When Hugh is not working, he enjoys traveling, reading, running 20-25 miles a week, cycling, and spending time with his family. He is also a long-time Boston Red Sox fan. He answered these questions in August, 2001.

Why are you a scientist?
I never really considered doing anything else. I got it in my head as a kid that I’d want to be a scientist. Then, when I was in college during the 1970’s, it was the time of the first Earth Day and many environmental movements. Those environmental issues were a major influence on me.

What is science?
Science is the organized and systematic means people have to gain knowledge and understanding about the world. It is a set of defined systems and practices. Science is a human social activity, so it is also subject to competition, jealousy, and other factors. It takes collaboration–scientists can’t work in isolation. Scientists rely on the information and data others have collected.

What skills and qualities are necessary to be a scientist?
A scientist must want to work on scientific problems and puzzles. Scientists need to have curiosity and creativity. They also need to have perseverance and motivation. Scientists need to have good oral and written communication skills. They need to present their findings to others so they can see, evaluate, and test the results. Scientists must have analytical skills, and that includes good math skills.

What is most enjoyable about your job?
I love all the real science: getting the first idea, going to sea, making measurements, analyzing data, making graphs, and writing the papers about the data. I love going on cruises and working in the field. It is a job with a lot of adventure and freedom. I couldn’t have a 9-5 job.

What frustrations do you face with your job?
It is frustrating when things don’t work. There are usually more bad results in an experiment than good results. So, then we need to start over. We need to ask several questions about the experiments: did we do something wrong? What do we need to change? It is also frustrating to do all the non-science, such as writing proposals and working on administrative issues. At the most, I get to spend about 25% of my time on real science and real data.

If you have spare time while you are
in Antarctica, what do you plan to do?

I’m taking several books. I like fiction, mysteries, science fiction, and history. I’ll be reading Dr. Zhivago, by Boris Pasternak, and The First World War, by John Keegan.

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