A breathtaking view of a snowy mountainous landscape with a massive glacier in the foreground. The glacier has two prominent icebergs, one with a natural arch formation. The water below is calm and reflective, capturing the pristine beauty of the ice and snow. In the distance, a small boat can be seen, highlighting the vastness of the scene. The sky is cloudy, adding a soft, diffuse light to the scene.

Allison Cusick, PhD Candidate

2024 Seed Grant Awardee

Project Description


The image is a promotional graphic announcing the funding of the POLARIS project. At the top, the logo for "NASA SCoPE" is displayed with the tagline "Connecting SMEs and SciAct." Below this, there is a green bar with the word "POLARIS" and an icon of the Earth. On the left side, the "Infiniscope" logo is shown. A large red stamp labeled "FUNDED" overlays a background image of snow-covered mountains and a glacier. On the right side, there is a photo of Allison Cusick with text that reads: "ALLISON CUSICK, POLARIS, PhD Candidate, Scripps Inst. of Oceanography, UC San Diego." At the bottom, logos for "ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration," "Infiniscope," and "NASA Partner" are displayed along with additional project details in small text.

POLARIS, the Polar Outreach, Learning, and Research for Interconnected Science with Infiniscope, is on a mission to create an engaging, comprehensive online scientific training series tailored to the FjordPhyto participatory science project in Antarctica. FjordPhyto’s research program involves expedition cruising field guides facilitating scientific sampling efforts with travelers in Antarctica. To provide rigorous scientific inquiry and education in one of the most remote environments on Earth, it is paramount to train facilitating individuals to a high proficiency level. FjordPhyto and Infiniscope have identified a highly impactful collaboration opportunity to implement Infiniscope’s Tour-It and Simple Author tools to create technical training materials accessible to all. By using Infiniscope’s tools in this novel way, new STEM educational materials will be available to captivate new audiences through the Infiniscope platform. Additionally, FjordPhyto training will become more interactive and engaging so all can feel ready to collect rigorous data from the most remote places on Earth.

Target Audience Age


NASA Division


Grant Status

Learning Context

digital learning enabled

Digital Learning

community disabled

Neighborhood /

Informal /
Out of School

Home and Families disabled

Home / Family

citizen science enabled

Citizen Science

formal education enabled

Formal Education


Cusick Bio Photo

I love finding new solutions that help improve our FjordPhyto program engagement and rigor. The data collected through collaboration with expedition vessels is valuable and increases our knowledge of how polar marine ecosystems are impacted by climate change. Infiniscope helps to provide an engaging, interactive, and entertaining platform not only for training on proper protocols but also for inquiry-based learning!

Allison Cusick POLARIS PI

Allison Cusick, PhD Candidate

PhD Candidate
Biological Oceanography
Scripps Institute of Oceanography

Allison is from Seattle, Washington, and now lives in California pursuing her Ph.D. at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. She studies phytoplankton in coastal ecosystems and co-founded the citizen science project FjordPhyto, engaging travelers in cutting edge polar research. The samples collected by participants on expedition vessels contribute to an understanding of seasonal changes in phytoplankton along the Antarctic Peninsula and how freshwater from melting glaciers may influence the phytoplankton in the austral summer. Allison first traveled to Antarctica in 2013 aboard the RV Nathaniel B Palmer ice-breaker in the Ross Sea and since 2017, has visited the western Peninsula every season (more than 300 days accumulated) lecturing on board and training expedition ship staff who facilitate the FjordPhyto project. Allison holds an M.S. in Marine Biology (2021) and M.A.S. in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography (2017) and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Washington (2006).

SciAct Team


Infiniscope Description

Infiniscope is a NASA-funded project that is transforming Earth and space science education and empowering educators through the creation of high-quality adaptive digital learning experiences, educator professional development, a community of practice, creative tools for designing digital content, and a robust set of educator resources.

Dr. Ariel Anbar stands and faces the camera in a black dress shirt with his arms folded.

Allison's project is an excellent demonstration of anyone wishing to scale their impact. We're delighted she will be using Infiniscope creative tools to train tour guides and share arctic climate science with the Infiniscope community.

Ariel Anbar, PhD Infiniscope PI