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Angela Posada-Swafford , ,

The microscope doctor

Jim Janoso has created a very nice niche for himself. He is the microscope doctor. His patients: hard working microscopes in field stations in the most remote areas of the world. Microscopes that work day in and day out in the dust, on the ice, under extemes of temperature. Microscopes that should not, — cannot — fail. His crusade: to help scientists see the mysteries of their tiny world, better. His tools: a large trunk crammed with lenses, cleansing solutions, tons of specialized tissues, tiny screws and screwdrivers, and a huge spirit of adventure.

Housecalls include visits to research stations, ships, labs and outposts everywhere. He is especially fond of his Antarctic visits. This is his third time on The Ice. He has already performed surgeries on microscopes in the South Pole and McMurdo, and now he’s spending a whole month at Palmer Station.

Janoso is a mechanical engineer and has held a variety of jobs, from the aerospace industry to the forest service. He had the vision, in 2003, to buy a small company, Northern Focus Optical, which was devoted to fixing small microscopes in high schools in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. He took it to new heights by refocusing on the higher-end microscopes of science.

Janoso always finds some battered microscopes that needs his attention, like those of our transport vessel the Laurence M. Gould. As the boat rocks in the tall waves of the Drake Passage, Jim keeps working, taking apart layer after layer of lenses and precision optics. If he can’t find a tool, he’ll make it, or use something designed for a different purpose. Where, if not here, is the adventure?

All of us here at Palmer go to Jim for our optical worries. He has scanned many of our cameras and birding binoculars.  He is also an excellent hands-on sailor, an asset on our almost daily zodiac expeditions.

I bett Scott and Shackleton and the other polar explorers would have loved to have someone like Jim Janoso on board back in the heroic age of exploration.