Cool Places To Do Science: Life In The Lab 2

We have talked about the physical space where you do your science stuff before. And we illustrated how a nice environment can have a strong impact overall. So talking again about cool places to do science...what if your lab was a boat? Let's get even more crazy: what if you wanted to do a trip round the globe, stopping at places like the Caribbean and the Mediterranean Sea, while collecting your samples? Crazy? Not really. If you love sailing and science, you should have convinced J. Craig Venter to take you on his team.

Would you like this to be the view from your window in the lab?
Back in 2003, J. Craig Venter started the Global Ocean Sampling Expedition (GOS) as a pilot sampling project in the Sargasso Sea. Later on, the full expedition project was announced, which used Craig Venter's personal yacht named Sorcerer II. It started in Halifax, Canada and circumnavigated the globe, returning to the U.S.A. in January 2006. According to their website, the expedition was inspired in part by the journeys of the HMS Beagle and the HMS Challenger. However, more aligned with the 21st century, the Sorcerer II expedition's aim was to collect and classify microorganisms according to their genetic material, compiling a database of their genome sequence.

Sampling sites of The Sorcerer II Global Ocean Sampling Expedition
But, who is J. Craig Venter and why is this expedition important? Dr. Venter was a major force behind the sequencing of the human genome during the late '90s. His team contributed a lot to this major endeavor and since then, he has diversified his interests to include the aforementioned project on genetic diversity in marine microbial communities and the novel field of synthetic genomics. Ultimately, in his own words, his goal is " find an alternative to taking carbon out of the ground, burning it, and putting it into the atmosphere. That is the single biggest contribution I could make."
Now coming back to the place of work, sampling the ocean around the globe is quite cool. However, no matter how motivated you are, the Sorcerer II crew is a very skillful, small group of people, and it would have been very difficult to be included in the team. But, this might at least motivate you to start your own scientific expedition, or start dreaming about where you want that lab of yours sitting when you are doing your research.

The Sorcerer II yacht.
For your inspiration, you can find out more about this here:

Global Ocean Sampling Expedition (GOS)

J. Craig Venter on the web

J. Craig Venter Institute

Or watch the first episode of BBC's series "Bang Goes the Theory" where the research of Dr. Venter is introduced.

If you have any stories that you want to share, or know a cool place where scientists are working every day please let me know:

Contributed by Miguel Tam, Ph.D.
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