NSF Advanced Training Program in Antarctica for Early Career Scientists:

Biological Adaptations to Environmental Change

There are currently no definite plans for another Antarctic Biology Training Program. If you are interested in Antarctic science, consider joining any or all of the following:

Since 1994 the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) has sponsored 11 Antarctic Biology Training Programs for early career scientists at McMurdo and Palmer Stations, Antarctica. The program has been a collaboration between the University of San Francisco and the University of Southern California; and has a proven record of introducing participants to Antarctic science under realistic field conditions, and providing opportunities to understand and appreciate the complexities and logistical challenges of undertaking science in Antarctica. From 1994-2018 there have been over 250 participants from 142 institutions in 24 countries. NSF has provided travel, room and board, and science support for all participants.

Course Themes

The emphasis is on integrative biology, using a combination of laboratory and field-based projects focused on biological adaptations of polar organisms to environmental change. A diverse team of instructors offer participants the opportunity to study a wide range of Antarctic organisms (e.g., bacteria, algae, invertebrates, and fish), as well as study several different levels of biological analysis (spanning molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, ecology, and evolution).

Program Outcomes

Course alumni have leveraged their Antarctic course experience to develop new research directions, incorporate polar science into curricula at their home institutions, and enhance public outreach activities.

Major impacts have been to:

  • introduce new researchers to the unique features of biological processes in an extreme-cold environment
  • place that understanding of Antarctic biology in the context of evolutionary and environmental change in polar regions
  • train participants in field and research methods that are unique to the study of biology in Antarctica
  • foster an appreciation for the importance of the Antarctic ecosystem on global processes
  • prepare early-career scientists for success in developing their own independent research programs in polar regions


Donal T. Manahan, PhD
University of Southern California

Deneb Karentz, PhD
University of San Francisco
main contact for questions