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Morning Meeting

Extreme Measurements

Oceanographer Wade Jeffrey ’77 delights Trinity students with tales of Antarctic scientific adventures
“You guys are all going to graduate soon. Where is the Titan Trail going to take you?” asked Dr. Wade Jeffrey ’77, Trinity alum, oceanographer and microbiologist, to students assembled in Morning Meeting on Friday, October 7, 2022. “Well, it’s taken me to some pretty cool places. And I owe most of what I have done to Trinity’s foundation in education that allowed me to get started. It made a big difference.” 
Now the director of the Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation at the University of West Florida, this was Jeffrey’s fourth visit to present to Trinity students since 2007, once for each of his five-year alumni reunions. Jeffrey says he loves the opportunity to show students a potential career path in the sciences and to see how much the school has changed. 
“So choose your path. Go someplace cool. Do something neat,” he told students. “In my case it happens to be the Antarctic.” With a powerpoint presentation jam packed with photos, graphs and diagrams, Jeffrey took about 50 science students on a detailed dive into the history of Antarctic exploration, his own experiences on 14 trips there, and a data-driven analysis of how low ozone levels at the Earth’s poles affect UV radiation and bacteria growth in the ocean. 
“I like to call myself an extreme microbiologist,” said Jeffrey. “I happen to work in places that are unusual: extreme because they are hot, or cold or high in altitude. A lot of that has to do with ultra-violet radiation and where there’s a lot of it.”
Later that morning, he delivered a “gallery talk” to two dozen art students, pointing out both the art and the science behind over a dozen large photographic prints of Antarctica hanging on the walls of the Perkinson Arts Center Lobby. Jeffrey made each of the larger-than-life prints from his own photographs taken during 14 expeditions to Antarctica.
“Sometimes it's just dark,” he said, noting the need to underexpose the shots and clean them up later in photoshop. “Especially in the winter, it was the only way I could get a fast enough shutter speed. If you’re using a telephoto lens on a vibrating ship, you’ve got to shoot at speeds of a 500th to a thousandth of a second.”
After leaving Trinity, the exhibition traveled to the University of Lynchburg’s Daura Museum of Art, where it will remain on display through December 9, 2022. Jeffrey donated one of the prints from the collection to Trinity, which will hang in the Science Discovery Center.

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