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Three female scientists from the University of Rhode Island will each lead separate research expeditions to Antarctica this academic year.

University officials say the missions are further evidence of the school's success in attempting to recruit more women for science faculty positions.

The expeditions will conduct research on the biology of diatoms, microscopic algae that are essential to the ocean's role in regulating global climate. They will be supported by the Nathaniel B. Palmer, an ice-capable research vessel chartered by the National Science Foundation.

Bethany Jenkins, an associate professor of cell and molecular biology, says the missions are an opportunity for the scientists to serve as role models for the next generation of female researchers.

Jenkins and her 13-member team depart for Antarctica on Wednesday.

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