Recipient of Hughes grant returns from arctic research trip

Melissa M. Grable, a senior from Wilmette, Ill., recently returned from a month-long thesis research project aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Polar Sea in the Arctic Ocean.

Grable, a biology major, boarded the 399-foot icebreaker in Nome, Alaska, with William Ambrose, assistant professor of biology at Bates, and classmate Peter Tilney of Kennebunkport, Maine. Grable was among a party of five scientists whose objective was to determine if early- season plant material attached to the ice reaches the sea floor and serves as food for sea floor-based organisms. Grable observed ice algae on the sea floor with footage provided by a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and collected samples from the Arctic Ocean floor using the box coring technique. This was the first time an ROV was deployed from a U.S. Coast Guard ship in western Arctic waters. Grable’s research will be the basis for her senior thesis, which she is preparing through the summer in Carnegie Science Hall laboratories at Bates.

Grable’s travel expenses and summer research stipend have been funded in part by a $14,500 grant awarded to Ambrose by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the enhancement of Bates’ science programs.

A dean’s list student and a member of the varsity swim team at Bates, Grable graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill. She is the daughter of Gary and Lynn Grable of Wilmette, Ill.

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