Byron Adams, assistant professor of molecular biology and microbiology, leaves this week for Antarctica, where he researches the tiny worms called nematodes. Although the continent's frigid temperatures and remote location make life tough for researchers, those conditions combine to create a perfect field laboratory for observing the impact of incremental changes in the environment.

Since no other species inhabit the nematodes' icy realm, Adams can add water, raise temperature or otherwise modify the soil and observe the results. The work helps show how climate changes can affect ecosystems.