Visions of the Antarctic

USF researcher’s photos of the icy continent depict the wild art of science.


By Vickie Chachere

USF News


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Feb. 22, 2011) – As a scientist, Paul Suprenand looks at the world with a researcher’s precision as he documents the changing environment in remote and exotic locales. As an artist, he never fails to notice the beauty of the fragile environment, and he never travels anywhere without his camera.


Last spring, he was part of the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science expedition to Antarctica led by biological oceanographer Jose Torres. The group was studying the impact of climate change on the Antarctic food web, particularly the strange population changes in the silverfish, a key food source for penguins, seals and other regional carnivores. While on board the R/V Nathanial B. Palmer, Suprenand captured the images of a world that might be slowly disappearing.


Beginning Thursday and running through March 6, Suprenand’s photographs will be on display at Studio@620, 620 First Ave. S in St. Petersburg. Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The gallery is open Tuesdays to Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m.


 The exhibit will include three special events; an opening reception will be held at 6:30 p.m., Thursday.  Suprenand and Torres will lecture on their research and the expedition at 7:30 p.m. on March 4 and 5.

The exhibit’s aim is “translating art to science, and science to art, in order to engage and communicate with the public and scientists alike,” Suprenand said.


“What I like about photography is that it’s a way to kind of capture or memorialize what is true to the eye,” he said. “I don’t do color correction – whatever is there is there.“


A Colorado native, Suprenand is also a sculptor, painter and published poet.  An avid hiker and skier, he fell in love with marine life during an internship at the aquarium in Denver. With an undergraduate degree in environmental studies-biogeochemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master’s degree in environmental science from Colorado School of Mines, an opportunity to study for his PhD and work in Torres’ laboratory brought Suprenand, his wife Lisa and their son Jack to Florida.


The art and the science blend seamlessly.


“It’s so hard to communicate science,” he said. “But if you can take a picture, you can communicate what the trip might have been like. It engages the general person to maybe want to know more – not just about that trip, but what the purpose was and what the results will be.”

To see more of Suprenand’s photography, visit his website.


Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.