Past & Present


Dr. Steve Emslie

Principal Investigator

UNCW Department of Biology and Marine Biology

Welcome to the Penguins Past and Present Webpage!


Dr. Steve Emslie, marine ornithologist and UNCW professor of biology and marine biology, continued his excursion to the relatively pristine Antarctic in search of active and ancient pygoscelid penguin colonies thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant provides $500,000 over five years to help fund Emslie and one Ph.D. student, Michael Polito, for their research and travel. The focus of their studies, current and abandoned penguin colonies, offers insight to the shifting interface between the ocean, shore and ice by using radiocarbon dating to determine exactly when these colonies were formed and abandoned over hundreds to thousands of years. They are also using stable isotope analysis of ancient and modern tissues to investigate past diets compared with those of the present for evidence of major dietary shifts in penguins. Recently, a new Ph.D. student, Rebecka Brasso, was added to the project to examine mercury in past and present penguin tissues. You will find links for more information on all these topics on our Research page. Enjoy your visit!