In the middle of March 2013, Robert Koff, D.M.D., returned home to Colorado following a six-month stint working at Antartica’s McMurdo Station dental clinic as the sole dentist, something he’d been waiting 15 years to experience as part of the U.S. Antarctic Program.
A graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry Class of 1983, Koff is an avid traveler. It was 1998 when he’d learned about the program while researching plans for a trip to Russia, but his daughter was only 5 years old at the time and he told his wife he’d wait until she was in college.
So it wasn’t until August 2012, when he finally packed his warmest of cold weather clothes, and set off for what he calls the ‘Everest of dental overseas jobs.’
“What made the trip so special was the people and the scenery. I have never been around so many interesting, well-traveled people as the 1,200 folks who lived and worked at McMurdo and the South Pole,” he said.
Koff kept in touch with his wife, who isn’t a fan of cold weather, through almost-daily G-mail video chats that provided a great source of comfort. He learned that, if you’re dressed properly, you can enjoy hiking and skiing in -74F weather and he says he would recommend the experience to anyone who likes travel and adventure.
If you are interested in learning more about his adventure, Koff also blogged about and shared photographs from his experience in Antarctica: The Frozen Dentist. And The Antarctic Sun ran a great story on him and his impact at the station.
Koff, who runs a general dental practice in Colorado Springs, Colo., makes it back to Gainesville on occasion including for his class’ 25th Reunion in 2008 and most recently for UF Homecoming in 2011.
Editor’s Note: You have to be careful what you tell people when you’re on an airplane. When Koff was flying home from Antarctica when he ran into Larry Grayhills, a member of the college’s Class of 1985. When Grayhills learned where Koff had been, he thought it might make a good story for the college to share with alumni.