Meet the… Technicians!

I’ve introduced you to a bunch of the scientists on board (although there are still more to come and the expedition is drawing to a close!), but we haven’t yet met some of the most important people on the whole cruise… the techs!

The technical crew include a raft of folks who really make the expedition run smoothly – without them the whole shebang would surely fall apart. So today we’re going to meet Chieh, one of the key cogs in the JR wheel….


Good morning/ afternoon (time has no meaning in this place)! Can you tell us who you are and what you do on board the JR?

CP: My name is Chieh Peng, and I work for IODP. I was from Taiwan originally, and now I’m a USA citizen.

Cheih catwalk1

[Chieh leading the core onto the catwalk, ready to be cut and curated]

My background is in geochemistry. I am one of the 2 assistant lab officers, who act as laboratory foremen. We oversee all technical support activities, make sure all the cores and samples are processed and taken accordingly and in a timely fashion, and manage logistics support including preparation of shipping document for off-going samples, cores, and equipment.

And why exactly is this job important to the expedition? Why would happen if you (or someone doing your job) wasn’t here?)

CP: IODP technical staff provide laboratory support for the scientific party. We maintain all instruments to their optimal operating conditions, We help curate cores and samples to keep up with the IODP standards.

The assistant lab officers are senior technicians; we understand the tasks in the lab, we have a lot of experience in various fields, and we know the ship crew and our technical staff very well. It is important that we can coordinate efforts among the ship crew, the technical staff, and the scientists to fulfill all requests.

Hopefully, if one of us can’t be here, there are other senior technicians that can step into the role.

[Chieh is being modest – if she or her nightshift counterpart Heather weren’t here, chaos would reign! We scientists need a firm hand in the lab or we get out of hand 🙂 ]

Cheih catwalk 4

[Chieh cutting the core into sections ready to be capped and taken inside to the labs]

I know you’re one of our most experienced techs out here, but how long exactly have you been working for IODP/ODP, and how many expeditions have you been on?

CP: I have been with the program since 1991, I have sailed over 60 expeditions.

60 expeditions???? That’s insane, considering that each expedition is 2 months long. How many years of your life have you spent at sea in total?

CP: Over 10 years

Wow, hats off to you Chieh. The JR really is your second (first?) home.

Core view

Well with all that time spent out here, what would you say is the best part about being at sea?

CP: Meeting new people, learning new science, and helping scientists achieve their goals

And what’s the worst or hardest part about being at sea? What do you miss most.

CP: Being away from family and friends. I miss my dog.

I’d have to agree, being on the JR is fun but I sure do miss my family. I don’t have a dog, but if I did, I suspect I’d miss it too…

Well thanks for joining us Chieh. Keep on sailing!

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