2007-04-26 / News

Antarctic lake named for scientist and former Jamestown resident

Deneb Karentz Deneb Karentz An ice-covered lake in Antarctica now bears the name of Dr. Deneb Karentz, a professor of biology and environmental science at the University of San Francisco, where she is chair of the Biology Department. Karentz has conducted research on the s o u t h e r n m o s t continent for the past 20 years.

"It's totally unexpected," said Karentz, who has a joint appointment in the department of environmental science. "It's actually quite an honor, and I'm quite thrilled."

Lake Karentz, which is 13-miles long, recognizes Karentz's contribution to the study of Antarctica. Most of her research has focused on the effects of ozone depletion on marine plankton. The research has been conducted at Palmer and McMurdo Stations, and aboard several research cruises in the Bellingshausen and Ross Seas. She is also an instructor for the advanced international integrative biology

course taught at McMurdo Station for graduate students from across the world, and served two years as the associate program manager for biology and medicine at the U.S. National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs. She is currently the U.S. representative to the Group on Life Sciences for the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. She has authored many scientific publications, and presented her findings on the biological effects of ozone depletion at national and international conferences.

Because there is no history of permanent settlements and because the continent has been explored and studied by people of all nationalities, most Antarctic geographic features are named after people. Names are proposed to the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names, which then makes recommendations to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for approval. Approved names generally honor those that have played a significant role in the understanding of Antarctica.

Simply getting to Antarctica can be an adventure. To reach McMurdo Station, Karentz flies to New Zealand and then flies on a military cargo plane for six to eight hours to the station. Reaching Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula requires a flight to Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of South America, and then a four- to five-day trip aboard an icebreaker ship to an almost otherworldly place.

"It's just a beautiful place to be, with fantastic landscapes," said Karentz. "There's nowhere else like it on Earth. It's incredible."

Karentz is the daughter of Rose and Varoujan Karentz of Jamestown. She attended URI as an undergraduate and obtained her doctoral degree from the URI Graduate School of Oceanography.

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