D’Ambrosio takes on Antarctica


Photo provided by: Lauren D'Ambrosio

Provided by the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, biology and research teacher Lauren D’Ambrosio ventured to Antarctica. After observing the wildlife and scenery, D’Ambrosio hopes to spread word of the importance of protecting the planet, so that places like Antarctica remain brimming with life. “If there’s one thing I hope to teach my students, it’s that our actions have implications and it’s important to be mindful of them,” D’Ambrosio said.

Julia Hubbell, Editor-in-Chief

Departing in Nov., biology and research teacher Lauren D’Ambrosio traveled alongside National Geographic to a land most only see in photographs: Antarctica. Her month-long journey was provided through the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, a partnership between National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions that gives educators the opportunity to experience field-based learning in unique geographical locations. A thorough application process narrowed down many applicants into 50 that received offers to go on the expedition. 

D’Ambrosio applied to the fellowship in 2019, finding out that she had been selected for the program  in Feb. 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, D’Ambrosio’s journey was postponed. After hearing that the expedition had finally been rescheduled, she was eager to finally travel to a place that most never visit.

“Only .006% of the world has ever gone there [Antarctica], which is insane,” D’Ambrosio said. “I can’t fathom that we are over eight billion now, and that I’m one of the very few that have gone to this continent and experienced all of its beauty.”

While Antarctica itself is beautiful, the journey is very intense. Drake’s Passage—the body of water between South America and Antarctica—is known for having some of the roughest waters in the world, while also providing the quickest route to the continent.

“The Drake’s Passage has recorded some of the highest heights of waves, at times, over 100 feet,” D’Ambrosio said. “On my trip, we apparently had calm seas, but the first two days of our trip I was so seasick I could barely get out of bed. Later, they reported that we had roughly 80 foot waves.”

While harsh terrain is often associated with the vast lands of Antarctica, the area is also known for its residents, many of whom D’Ambrosio had close encounters with.

“When we arrived in Antarctica, there was an area of upwelling where we immediately started seeing phytoplankton and other forms of wildlife,” D’Ambrosio said. “As we started approaching the continent, there were penguins coming in through the colonies and landing and we saw so many humpback whales. We got super excited because we saw an emperor penguin, which is rare for the time of year, then all of the sudden we saw the march of the penguins as they marched the sea.”

Experiencing the wonders of Antarctica is an opportunity not granted to most. Knowing this, D’Ambrosio is determined to divulge her unique experiences with her students.

“She has shared a lot about her trip with us,” senior Cassidy Howard said. “ I love hearing about it. She also relates this a lot to biology by describing biomes and food chains she saw.”

With the vast knowledge gained and the observations of so many species, D’Ambrosio wants to push students to think about the planet. In sharing her story, she hopes to inspire others to protect global communities that they previously would not have considered.

“I hope to expand the mindsets of the students to think more globally instead of just locally,” D’Ambrosio said. “I hope to show them what implications we have for actions in our everyday lives, and how that has a ripple effect into different communities.”