Penguin Science

Understanding penguin response to climate and ecosystem change

Our current penguin team

Our team deploys to Ross Island, Antarctica  from October to January every year for the Adelie penguin breeding season. We live and sleep in tents, battle storms and cold, but have the best job in the world. Click on the name to learn more about each person.

The team

Dr. David Ainley

David Ainley is an ecologist at H. T. Harvey & Associates Ecological Consultants. He has studied marine ecosystems, including birds, mammals and fish, for more than 40 years, publishing about 300 papers and 4 books, from equatorial to South Polar Pacific region.

Dr. Grant Ballard

Grant is an ecologist with expertise in evaluating climate change impacts on wildlife and human populations, as well as bio-informatics. He has been on the penguinscience team since 1996.

Dr. Annie Schmidt

Annie is a marine ecologist who has studied seabirds since 2004. Her research involves diverse aspects of seabird ecology from population dynamics to nesting habitat variability and at sea behavior. She started with the project in 2013.

Dr. Amélie Lescroël

Amélie is a seabird ecologist brought on the team in 2005 for her expertise on diving behavior analysis and the use of animal-borne sensors. Her research combines data collected at-sea and at the colony to understand how inter-individual differences in foraging behavior translates into differences in breeding performance and/or survival.

Dr. Arvind Varsani

Arvind is a molecular virologist who works across ecosystems from plants to animals and from the tropics to the Antarctic. His research uses a combination of traditional virology, microscopy (including transmission electron microscopy), molecular and cellular biology techniques in conjunction with modern sequencing techniques, synthetic biology and bioinformatics to characterize viruses and understand their dynamics.

Dr. Katie M. Dugger

I am a population ecologist primarily focused on the estimation and modeling of vital rates in relation to environmental variation and habitat characteristics as key elements in the conservation and management of species and their ecosystems.

Megan Elrod

Megan is a biologist at Point Blue Conservation Science and has worked with the penguinscience team since 2013. As a biologist at Point Blue, she works to advance the conservation and effective management of species and their ecosystems, often by contributing to, and advocating for the value, of long-term bird monitoring data.

Jarod Santora

Techno man

Dennis Jongsomjit

Dennis is a GIS specialist and ecologist using spatial data to help understand how wildlife relate to their ever-changing environment. He is currently a graduate student at San Francisco State University focusing on penguin use of sea-ice to aid them in their winter migration.

Jean Pennycook

Jean is a career science educator and joined the penguin team in 2006. She created an education outreach program which connects the penguin research to thousands of children and adults every year with live Skype calls from the field and projects to engage classrooms and the public.

Dr. Virginia Morandini

Virginia is an ecologist, her research in populations ecology has been focused on three main areas including population dynamics modelling, movement ecology, animal physiology and, microbiology and emerging diseases. Through this multifaceted approach, she hopes to contribute a novel understanding of the functioning of complex systems under natural variability and human-related disturbances.

Suzanne Winquist

Suzanne is a graduate student at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and member of the Seabird Oceanography Lab. She uses animal-borne sensors and video loggers to study Adélie penguin foraging and diet.

Dr. Rachael Orber

Rachael Orben is an Assistant Professor (Sr. Research) at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center where she leads the Seabird Oceanography Lab. She was an intern with the Penguin Science Team in 2003/04 at Cape Crozier. She brings experience in seabird foraging ecology and biologging and is the graduate advisor for Suzie Winquist.