SUNY Oneonta News

March 2, 2010



ONEONTA, N.Y. -- Dr. Devin Castendyk, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences at the SUNY College at Oneonta, spent the winter inter-session in Antarctica, where he conducted research as a collaborator with the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Dry Valleys, Long Term Ecological Research project. His research focused on understanding the physical environment associated with one of the most extreme ecosystems on Earth.

Since returning to Oneonta, Dr. Castendyk has spoken about his research at SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Binghamton, and the Center Street Elementary School in Oneonta.

From December 2009 to January 2010, Dr. Castendyk lived in the coldest ecosystem in the National Science Foundation’s string of 26 research sites in different climate zones throughout North America and Antarctica. He studied organisms known as cyanobacteria, which live in the bottom of ice-covered lakes. Scientists theorize that the simple life-form may be similar to life that may someday be found on Mars.

Dr. Castendyk’s work involved studying the movement of water within the lakes in Antarctica. The currents in the lakes may be important to the cyanobacteria, and they may be impacted by changes in climate conditions.

At the Center Street School, Dr. Castendyk spoke with a class of 17 second graders about his work in Antarctica. He reports that they asked intriguing questions, including “Was it cold?”, “Did Santa come on Christmas?” and “If you like it there so much, why don’t you live there?”

At the SUNY Oneonta Faculty Research Show on February 12, Dr. Castendyk presented his research in a poster session entitled “‘Going with the Flow’ in Extreme Antarctic Lakes.” On February 17, he shared his work with his colleagues at a faculty convivium in a presentation entitled “A Journey to Antarctica.” He also discussed the unique history, biology, physical challenges, day to day life, and beauty of the world’s coldest, highest, and driest continent.

On February 18, Dr. Castendyk gave a detailed presentation on the measurements he made, the nature of currents within the lakes, and the possible origin of these currents for a seminar in the Earth Sciences Department at SUNY Oneonta. The following day, he gave the same lecture as a guest speaker to the Geology and Environmental Studies Department at Binghamton University.

A hydro-geologist, Dr. Castendyk teaches courses for the Water Resources major at SUNY Oneonta. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, a master’s degree from the University of Utah, and a bachelor’s degree from Hartwick College. Last fall, SUNY Oneonta awarded him the 2009 Richard Siegfried Junior Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence, and he presented the Siegfried Lecture on “The Paradox of Sustainable Mining.”

More information about Dr. Castendyk and his research is available from him by phone at (607) 436-3064 or by e-mail to




For more information about the College, please call the Community Relations Office at (607) 436-2748 or send e-mail to Hal Legg, Director of Communications.

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