Patricia Fryer, Ph.D., is interested in all aspects of lithospheric plate subduction, the process that forms ocean trenches and island arcs. She is a veteran of 46 marine research expeditions, often in the role of chief scientist. Fryer’s research has focused on the very deepest parts of the Mariana Trench, including the question of why the Challenger Deep is so deep. She also has an active interest in serpentine mud volcanoes formed as a consequence of subduction and deformation of the Mariana plate above the subduction zone. Fryer has dived in the human-occupied vehicles (HOVs) Alvin and Shinkai 6500, and has conducted expeditions with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in the Mariana region. She received her college degree in geology from the College of William and Mary, and her graduate degrees in geology and geophysics from the University of Hawaii. Fryer is working on samples of sediment and rocks from the Mariana Trench region to understand not only the physical and chemical processes responsible for their origins, but to collaborate with biologists to determine the implications of microbial communities observed thriving on serpentinized peridotite (mantle rock) contained in the mudflows from the volcanoes and exposed in the deepest parts of the trench slope.