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Media Advisory 12-022

NSF Invites Media to Apply for Opportunity to Report on U.S.-sponsored Antarctic Research

Application deadline is August 24, 2012; deployments scheduled for December 8-15, 2012

Photo of an iceberg near the Antarctic Peninsula.

An iceberg near the Antarctic Peninsula.

August 9, 2012

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), manager of the U.S. Antarctic Program, is accepting written requests from professional journalists to report on scientific research supported by NSF's Office of Polar Programs (OPP) in Antarctica.

Selected journalists will deploy to Antarctica for approximately one working week.

NSF annually chooses a small group of journalists, representing a range of news organizations, to make individual visits to McMurdo Station, NSF's logistics hub on the continent. In addition, reporters visit Amundsen Scott South Pole Station (weather permitting), and report on NSF-sponsored research at field camps in close proximity to McMurdo.

For additional background on the U.S. Antarctic Program, please see the Arctic Sciences Web page on the NSF website.

OPP and NSF's Office of Legislative and Public Affairs jointly manage and coordinate media visits to the Polar Region.

Examples of projects that will be open to media visits include:

  • A site near McMurdo Station where a unique drill is being tested as part of the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling Project, a six-year, interdisciplinary deployment studying glaciology, microbiology, geochemistry and oceanography of the ecosystem. Media also may be able to speak to WISSARD researchers returning from the field. It will not be possible for reporters selected as media visitors to visit the remote WISSARD field camp.
  • The South Pole Telescope and IceCube Neutrino Observatory at NSF's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
  • The Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) Project in the McMurdo Dry Valleys
  • Studies of population dynamics of penguins and seals in McMurdo Sound

How to apply: Applicants must submit a written expression of interest in participating in the program, the equivalent of no more than two printed pages, detailing the outlet(s) in which the reporting will appear and a description of the audiences for those outlets.

Competition for the opportunity to deploy is expected to be intense, as Antarctic logistics are a constraining factor on how many people may deploy. Logistical limitations make it nearly impossible to modify itineraries once in Antarctica.

A panel consisting of science and logistics staff from the Office of Polar Programs and media officers from NSF's Public Affairs office will review all proposals and select finalists. The panel will look for proposals that indicate an understanding of the nature and challenges of NSF's scientific enterprise in the Antarctic as well as the desire and ability to communicate that understanding to the public.

Application Deadline: August 24, 2012--U.S. media receive preference in selection.

Application: Applications that indicate solid working knowledge of the U.S. Antarctic program and its science goals and the ability to communicate the research being undertaken to a wide audience stand the best chance of selection.

Debbie Wing, the NSF public affairs officer responsible for OPP, can provide access to NSF-supported researchers who are scheduled to be in the field during the deployment period to assist reporters in obtaining information about the science they may expect to see while in Antarctica.

Freelancers are eligible for consideration but must supply with their letter of application evidence of a firm commitment, on their employer's letterhead, from the prospective employer to publish or air their work.

General reporting about Antarctica, travel or logistics are not given priority. The program does not support feature-film proposals. Documentary filmmakers may consider applying to the Advancing Informal STEM Learning Program managed by NSF's Education & Human Resources directorate.

Medical: In order to deploy to Antarctica, it is necessary to pass rigorous medical and dental examinations.  These examinations are conducted at the finalist's expense by a personal physician and dentist, using USAP medical screening forms, which will be evaluated by USAP-contracted medical experts. Certain medical conditions detected during the physical and dental examinations may disqualify a candidate from visiting Antarctica, even if initially selected as a media visitor.

Expenses: Reporters selected for the media visit, or their employers, pay for round-trip transportation to--and accommodation in--Christchurch, New Zealand.  Reporters must visit NSF headquarters in Arlington, VA., at their own expense for pre-trip planning. NSF furnishes, at no cost to participants, cold-weather clothing solely for use in the field, as well as housing, transportation, and food while in Antarctica.

Note: From time to time, the NSF has received requests for media opportunities from reporters who plan to travel to Antarctica at various times of the year via non-governmental means. Such requests are reviewed on a case by case basis. Such requests should be directed to the NSF media officer listed below.

Where to Send Applications: Contact the NSF media officer listed below by phone or by email as soon as possible to express interest. Send the application letter to:

National Science Foundation
Office of Legislative and Public Affairs
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1245
Arlington, VA 22230
Attn: Debbie Wing, (703) 292-5344 /


Media Contacts
Deborah Wing, NSF, (703) 292-5344, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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