Rotten Ice Team: Shelly Carpenter

Shelly Carpenter

Shelly in the Arctic showing off our highly specialized Sackhole Brine Collection Devices



MS, Botany/Molecular Biology, Arizona State University

Current position

Research Scientist/Engineer IV
Oceanography and Applied Physics Laboratory Polar Science Center
University of Washington

Website Link

Interview with Shelly

About the Rotten Ice Project

What do you see as your role in the Rotten Ice Project?

I am the safety-conscious, recycle-advocating, lab-organizing, super tech… need I say more?

How does this project compare to previous ones you’ve participated in?

In retrospect they are probably all the same – intense and physical with grueling hours and monotonous sample processing, but somehow I liken it to mothers who forgot the pain of their first child and have that second one; we just keep going back for more!

If you had an unlimited budget, what would you add to this project?

I’d hire another technician or two!

About Fieldwork

What previous experience have you had doing Arctic research?

I’ve been doing Arctic Research (sediments, particulate water column, sea ice, frost flowers and saline snow) with Dr. Deming since 1998, mostly aboard icebreakers in the Canadian Arctic, but more recently at land-support facilities in Greenland and Alaska. Now I’m sharing my knowledge with this APL-PSC group.

Do you prefer cruises or land-based work?

I get more stir-crazy on boats perhaps due to the limitations of space and the lack of privacy within such a confined population.

What is the most interesting field location you’ve ever been to? Most unforgettable field moment?

They are all individually interesting and unforgettable!

What is the hardest part of sleep in Barrow?

Though the water-pump situation in our last hut was a royal pain in the butt as far as noise-polluiton after hours, I find that my difficulty with sleep is simply not getting enough due to the long hours in the lab.

What is your mosquito-avoidance strategy for July?

I will have a head-net, an adequate supply of Picaridin repellent and I’ll probably be wearing too many clothes anyways, from float jackets to dry suits, etc.

Essential survival item for doing polar fieldwork?

A selection of good gloves and hats!

About Teamwork

What do you think is the most important personality trait that you bring to the table?

My ability to laugh at the good, the bad and the ugly, after some curmudgeonly grumbles, of course!

Describe the other members of the Rotten Ice team in one word.


On Women in Science

What do you think about working as part as an all-woman team? Is it different than other teams you’ve worked on?

I find all communications are “easier” with a group of women even during times of conflict – we just seem to “speak the same language” or have a mutual understanding from situation to situation.

Fun Stuff

What is your favorite Iḷisaġvik College cafeteria item?

Chris’s chocolate cake, but if he’s not our chef I’ll go with the cottage cheese!

If you were to have a pseudonym, what would it be?


Lab music…what are some of your picks?

Anything you can sing to or anything that makes your head bop!

[Editor note: Shelly can regularly be found singing and occasionally even dancing while processing samples…she once startled the rest of the team by rocking out hard in the hallway, we thought she’d been injured!]

The Diatomacous Divas need a group thing, what should it be?

Definitely T-shirts, V-neck, women’s fit!

If you were to dress up as a diatomacous diva for Halloween, what would your costume consist of?

A whole bunch of little white paper diatom cut-outs all over me or if I found one, all over my opera dress!



Meet more members of the team and read about our adventures on our blog at the Rotten Ice Page!