Merlyn Paine, an historian and geographer by both outlook and training, is linked to the early exploration of the Antarctic through her father, a member of the fifty-six man 1933-35 Second Byrd Expedition, the last major, privately-funded Antarctic expedition. Stuart Paine was a dog driver, radio operator, and navigator, and in what Admiral Byrd called ‘the longest and most hazardous sledging journey of the expedition,’ guided the three-man Geological Party up the previously unexplored and massive Scott Glacier to approach the South Pole. Over a decade, Merlyn Paine transcribed the handwritten text, selected personal photographs, and annotated her father’s Antarctic diaries. Footsteps on the Ice, The Antarctic Diaries of Stuart D. Paine, Second Byrd Expedition, was published in 2007 by University of Missouri Press. Footsteps on the Ice is the only published, unedited account written from the inside of the Second Byrd Expedition, and is recognized by international reviewers as a significant contribution to the body of polar literature.
Paine was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and lived much of her early life at Lake Tahoe. She later earned a B.A. in History from Stanford University, an M.S. in Applied Resource and Physical Geography from Oregon State University, and later, a Masters of Library and Information Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.
Paine moved to Alaska in 1980 to work with CH2M Hill as a hydroelectric consultant. Subsequently, she worked with the Calista Corporation, a regional Alaska Native corporation, and later was a project manager (energy generation and transmission) with the Alaska Power Authority, and the regional environmental chief for the Alaska Department of Transportation, Central Region (impact assessment & regulatory compliance for state harbors, airports and roadways). Other responsibilities included four years as a Secretary of Agriculture appointee to the Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory Committee, tenures developing long-range land use and transportation plans in the public and private sectors, and many years teaming with her husband in Alaskan commercial salmon fishing.
Currently, Paine is an independent researcher who lives in both Nevada and Alaska with her husband.