Helen drills into the ice at the Patriot Hills in Antarctica. A yellow and black snowmobile with an attached cargo sled is in the background.

Helen Millman, PhD

Discipline: Glaciology

Age: 34

Nationality: Britain

Organisation: International Cryosphere Climate Initiative

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: Twitter

 

What’s the work that you do?

I did an ice sheet modelling PhD, where I looked into Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise during the last warm period in the Earth’s history. Now I’m the Antarctic Director at ICCI, where I try to explain Antarctic science to policymakers.

 

What keeps you going?

The need to be an insufferable know-it-all. I didn’t know that I was such a know-it-all until I started talking to politicians. Billy Connolly once said that “the desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever being one,” and I think that he was probably right.

 

What’s your message to the world?

“Get over yourself!” Antarctica is so vast and inhospitable, it gives you a feeling of how insignificant you are. I think that it’s good to try and hold onto that perspective back in the real world. We can all get too caught up in our own heads.

Rupali, in black polar gear, stands in front of Bharati, the third Indian station, situated in the Larsemann Hills region in Prydz Bay, Antarctica.

Rupali Pal

Discipline: Environmental science, Physics

Age: 43

Nationality: India

Organisation: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (India)

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: ResearchGate

 

What’s the work that you do?

I work in the field of background environmental radiation through natural occurring radionuclides present in the soil, rocks, air and water. Environmental radioactivity in the Antarctic Region, especially in the Larsemann Region of East Antarctica, where the Indian station “Bharati” is situated, is unique. As per geotectonic theory, India was once a part of Antarctica which got disconnected and moved ahead to merge with Asia. The theory has been supported by dating studies by geologists. The  Larsemann region with its radiation signatures, i.e., background thorium concentrations higher than uranium, is similar to the radioactivity concentrations available in Indian coastlines and can support the India- Antarctic link theory.

 

What keeps you going?

Finding answers to the unknown and scientific pursuits motivates me. Researching in the land of penguins has been an enriching and scientifically interesting experience. The support that my family, friends, and seniors give me is encouraging. The icy whiteness and pristine beauty of the region is a bliss.

 

What’s your message to the world?

Earth is subject to climatic changes because of human interference. Pollution causes global warming and ice sheet melting. It is the polar regions which have sustained the Earth’s energy balance in a holistic way for millions of years. Preserving the polar regions is the key to the future life on Earth. It is up to all of us to save our Earth.

Katelyn runs through thigh-high powder snow.

Katelyn Hudson, D.Arch, PhD

Discipline: Architecture

Age: 35

Nationality: US-American

Organisation: Vermont Technical College (USA); Cushman Design Group

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: Facebook and ResearchGate

 

What’s the work that you do?

My work investigates how people shelter themselves and how to continue to create architectural interventions what are attuned to the wellbeing of the occupants. It has developed into three main parts – practice, academia, and research. In my professional practice as an architectural designer, I am working towards licensure at a residential firm. I also teach construction drawing and detailing in an Architectural Engineering program. Lastly, I have continued my research into the architecture of Antarctica, which enhances the two other aspects of my work life. 

 

What keeps you going?

The evolution of how humans shelter themselves. Each case study or client presents a unique opportunity to further explore the decisions and patterns around dwelling. Each illustrates challenges and creative approaches to solve them, which I can apply in professional practice. While Antarctica represents an extreme environment, aspects can be applied in Vermont and provide engaging anecdotes for my students.

 

What’s your message to the world?

Never stop learning, always be open to listening. In any environment it is important to foster a habitat that is beneficial for those living in it, whether that is the humans, flora, or fauna. By observing and listening, we can learn, and evolve.

Heidi.....

Heidi Sevestre, PhD

Discipline: Glaciology

Age: 34

Nationality: French

Organisation: Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, AMAP (Norway)

Regional focus:  Arctic

Social media: Facebook

 

What’s the work that you do?

I have recently joined the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, one of the Working Groups to the Arctic Council. AMAP is defined as a “boundary organisation”, between academia and the member countries and organizations to the Arctic Council. We help coordinate research on topics such as climate change, human health, pollutants, ecosystems etc. On top of this “facilitator” work, I am deeply passionate about science communication and aim to make Arctic science more accessible and understandable.

 

What keeps you going?

I do what I do because the Arctic is the epicenter for climate change, and is today warming three times faster that the rest of the world. The fact that the Arctic as we know it is disappearing is not only dramatically impacting local populations but also populations way beyond the Arctic circle. Our future depends upon the Arctic and it is crucial that we keep studying this fascinating region and tell the world about its importance.

 

What’s your message to the world?

If we lose the Arctic, we lose the world.

Claudia, in a red polar parka, holds a radio on the pebble shore of Uruguay Lake close to Artigas Base in Fildes Bay (King George Island, Antarctic Peninsula). A glacier is visible the background.

Claudia Maturana Bobadilla, MSc

Discipline: Evolutionary Biology

Age: 37

Nationality: Chile

Organisation: Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity; Millennium Institute BASE (Chile)

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: ResearchGate

 

What’s the work that you do?

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in understanding the evolutionary processes and possible mechanisms that can explain the current distribution of high latitudes organisms, in particular freshwater and marine invertebrates from Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. I am also interested in improving the release of biodiversity occurrence information through open and free digital platforms. I am the founder of the Chilean counterpart of the APECS initiative which helps to involve polar early career scientists in outreach, education, and public debate.

 

What keeps you going?

What I like about my job is that it gives me a lot of freedom of action. I can ask new questions and learn new tools. It is a very dynamic world! This ensures that my enthusiasm never ends – I’m always looking for new destinations, collaboration networks and challenges in the professional (and social) areas. At present I am interested in contributing to science in a different way, with greater social and educational impact.

 

What’s your message to the world?

I believe that science and knowledge make us more aware of our existence and our effects on the landscape and environment. The world around us is much more connected to our behavior than we think. Today more than ever we need to have more empathy with our environment and allow new generations to have a glimpse of nature and its biodiversity. In this sense, it is very important to be creative and dare to break old paradigms with new ideas and methods!

Carol, in orange rain gear, a life jacket and a furry-looking hood, is in a Zodiac in front of an icy shorefront in Antarctica.

Carol Devine, MSc

Discipline: Social science, art

Age: 54

Nationality: Canada

Organisation: Médecins Sans Frontières; Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, York University (Canada)

Regional focus:  Arctic and Antarctic

Social media: Instagram and Twitter

 

What’s the work that you do?

I work mainly on climate change and health for a medical humanitarian organization and am a community scholar a global health research institute looking particularly at climate adaptation and also planetary health advocacy respectively. Also, my polar work and interest continues to be on plastic pollution, climate policy (also on black carbon) and mapping women of the Arctic and Antarctic to collect and share their little-known or untold stories. I also collaborate with Women of the Arctic and other amazing academics, do-ers and makers.

 

What keeps you going?

What keeps me going is people and planet – my children, family, friends, colleagues and also strangers and non-human species. We’re in an extremely serious climate crisis cascading with other crises (COVID, biodiversity loss, structural racism & sexism etc.) putting our survival in question and making already vulnerable and made-vulnerable people at more risk. My job inspires me because I get to work with and meet incredible individuals with such diverse experiences and skills around the globe daily. We have work to do, there’s hardship and joy in it too, and there’s no choice. Let’s live life to the maximum, but responsibly and knowing our interconnections, for us and future generations. I so appreciate my job, my colleagues and those also working on these topics of health, climate, community and political solutions. We need new thinking guided by our ancestors’ and also Indigenous wisdom.

 

What’s your message to the world?

If we have equity in the world, human rights, and we treat the planet better, there’s hope. In Antarctica, moss grows incredibly slowly and glaciers devastatingly retreat like never before. Antarctica is our bellwether, like the Arctic. I keep doing polar work because these extraordinary places regulate the world’s temperatures, we owe them to care about fellow humans and non-human species in peril. We need the ecosystem, the biosphere – it doesn’t need us. We humans have survived other massive crises by action, including for the greater good. We’re made to regenerate and adapt. Let’s do it like never before! Special shout out to the young people working on polar science, art, diplomacy and more.

Tanya, in Antarctica New Zealand's orange and black gear, stands in front of Scott Base on Ross Island, Antarctica.

Tanya O’Neill, PhD

Discipline: Environmental soil science

Age: 41

Nationality: New Zealand

Organisation: Waikato University (New Zealand)

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: Website and Twitter

 

 

What’s the work that you do?

I am an environmental soil scientist. My research focuses around understanding and minimizing human impacts of the Antarctic terrestrial environment, and I have research projects in the fields of environmental monitoring of base rebuilds; microplastics and other anthropogenic contaminants; seabirds as vectors for marine to terrestrial transfer of pollutants; and I look after a network of soil climate stations in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica.

 

 

What keeps you going?

I am passionate about Antarctica and I am motivated for my work to make a difference and have a platform to share knowledge and inspire change. I feel very fortunate to have had 10 trips to Antarctica and more in sight, and feel with this privilege comes the obligation to communicate our science in a way that inspires others to be environmental stewards too.

 

 

What’s your message to the world?

Antarctica belongs to no-one and everyone. Let’s work together to protect it.

 

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first, by reflection, which is the noblest; second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and third, by experience, which is the bitterest.”

– Confucius, 551BC

Erli is being attacked by a skua defending the territory, while doing research records in Antarctica.

Erli Schneider Costa, PhD

Discipline: Ecology (specialized in seabirds); Education and Outreach 

Age: 42

Nationality: Brazilian

Organisation: Universidade Estadual do Rio Grande do Sul; Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: Instagram and YouTube

 

What’s the work that you do?

I’ve been to Antarctica for research purposes 14 times since graduation. I worked on seabird ecology, especially skuas. Today I am pro-rector of extension at a Brazilian university. To remain involved with the dissemination of polar research, I created the “National Olympics on Marine and Polar Environments in Brazil” and it is in its 3rd edition.

 

What keeps you going?

I am passionate about science dissemination and encouraging new scientists, new teachers and actually everybody to “be what they dream of”.

 

What’s your message to the world?

Always remember that there are no impossible dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you what your limits are. You can be whatever you want, believe in your potential.

Zoia..

Zoia Tarasova, PhD

Discipline: Social Anthropology, Consumer Research

Age: 33

Nationality: Sakha (Yakut)

Organisation: Canvas8

Regional focus:  Arctic

Social media: LinkedIn and Academia

 

What’s the work that you do?

I work at a behavioural insights agency, Canvas8, where I help organisations better understand people and improve their services. I’ve worked with Diageo to uncover how people socialise during after-dinner drinks and what experiences they seek in these moments. Currently, I am exploring how global newsrooms are keeping up with the calls for greater diversity and inclusion. I’m also a postdoctoral affiliate at Cambridge University where my research interests lie at the intersection of migration, religiosity and gender in Siberia.

 

What keeps you going?

The part of my work I love most is that it keeps me dazzled by how complex and diverse human societies are. My work consists in examining humans in their social entanglements with each other and other living entities and things. This process has limitless potential for unravelling who we are and how we function.

 

What’s your message to the world?

If there’s one thing that’s unique to polar societies, it’s their resilience.

Tait is on the Mullica River in New Jersey (USA), collecting fish samples for an ecotoxicoloy study with the National Oceanic and Atmoshperic Administration.

Tait Algayer

Discipline: Polar Genomics

Age: 23

Nationality: US American

Organisation: Washington State University (USA)

Regional focus:  Arctic and Antarctic

Social media: Instagram and Twitter

 

What’s the work that you do?

Generally, I’m interested in genomic adaptations to extreme environments. More specifically, I study evolutionary genomics of antifreeze proteins in Zoarcid fishes. My group uses computational methods to sequence and assemble genomes and transcriptomes of Arctic and Antarctic zoarcids to gain insight on how gene copy number, tandem repeat number, and isoform interactions influence thermal hysteresis activity of antifreeze proteins. The broader goal of this work is to identify molecular pathways underlying adaptation to polar environments.

 

What keeps you going?

My supportive lab group keeps me going and inspires me to continue learning new computation skills (which I sometimes struggle with). Besides my coworkers, I love the work that I do because I get to learn about the ‘coolest’ organisms and explore the underlying mechanisms that allow them to thrive in such harsh environments. I also love the ugly looking fishes that I work with, they really bring a smile to my face.

 

What’s your message to the world?

Stay curious! Never forget what got you interested in science in the first place. For me, it was my love of the ocean and the fascinating creatures that live in it.

Kolisa, wearing a woollen hat and a polar parka, is in the vicinity of the Prince Edward Islands on the SA Agulhas II R/V.

Kolisa Yola Sinyanya

Discipline: Ocean Biogeochemistry

Age: 37

Nationality: South Africa

Organisation: University of Cape Town (South Africa), Ocean Womxn

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: Instagram and Twitter

 

What’s the work that you do?

I’m a Ph.D. candidate in Oceanography at the University of Cape Town. My research is part of a growing body of work that critically examines biogeochemical cycling in the ocean, particularly regions that are currently under-sampled. The research aims involve exploring phytoplankton community dynamics and microbe-nutrient interactions in the Indian Ocean, including subtropical and Southern Ocean waters.

 

 

 

What keeps you going?

Very few scientists in South Africa are working on this area of specialisation in ocean science and being one of the few, especially being a black woman, is a great opportunity for me. It is an opportunity to educate those who hail from similar backgrounds like mine. Over the years this became a sky-rocketing trajectory: influence and impact from my work and science communication have reached global proportions. I enjoy that I can convert my work into a language that is understood by everyone, allowing masses around the globe to understand why my science is so important, especially because Planet Earth is changing due to global warming which leads to climate change.

 

What’s your message to the world?

We need to individually watch our carbon footprints because our actions highly influence how fast the planet warms up. Our global ocean and its polar regions are highly affected.

Sofia, dressed in a black polar suit, is sitting on an ice-covered lake on Svalbard, holding a tube of mud that she has extracted from the lake floor through a hole in the ice.

Sofia Kjellman, MSc

Discipline: Arctic Geology, Paleoclimatology and Geochemistry

Age: 32

Nationality: Sweden

Organisation: UiT The Arctic University of Norway

Regional focus:  Arctic

Social media: ResearchGate and Instagram

 

What’s the work that you do?

I study how the Arctic climate has changed since the last ice age. With global warming, the Arctic is getting wetter. By studying precipitation changes during past warm periods, we can better understand the mechanisms controlling these changes. My PhD research focuses on precipitation seasonality on Svalbard, Arctic Norway, using biomarkers preserved in the bottom of lakes. I analyze the hydrogen isotopic ratios of ancient plant leaf waxes, which ultimately reflect the isotopic composition of precipitation, and therefore give us information about past climate.

 

What keeps you going?

My fascination with the Arctic! Research provides amazing opportunities to visit and learn more about these unique and vulnerable landscapes. I also find it fascinating that we can use chemical, biological, and physical signals preserved in geological archives (e.g., cores of mud from lakes) to better understand processes that have changed the Arctic in the past, today, and are likely to do so also in the future.

 

What’s your message to the world?

I want to encourage other early career researchers to stay curious and not being afraid of stepping out of their comfort zones. I believe in inclusivity, knowledge sharing and good communication. By working together, we can learn and do so much more!

Lisa...

Lisa E. Kelley

Discipline: 

Age: 

Nationality: 

Organisation: 

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: 

 

What’s the work that you do?

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What keeps you going?

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What’s your message to the world?

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Kim...

Kim Bernard, PhD

Discipline: Biological Oceanography

Age: 43

Nationality: South Africa

Organisation: Oregon State University (USA)

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: Twitter and Instagram

 

What’s the work that you do?

I am a biological oceanographer, and central to my work is the question: How does natural and anthropogenic environmental change alter zooplankton ecology and thus the structure and function of pelagic ecosystems and services? For the last 10+ years, I have been studying Antarctic krill at the Western Antarctic Peninsula, though my research has extended to include other zooplankton and different parts of the world’s oceans. My research relies primarily on data collected during long field campaigns spent at sea or remote field stations. In total, I have spent 64 weeks at sea and 29 months at Palmer Station, Antarctica.

 

What keeps you going?

The awe-inspiring continent of Antarctica keeps me going. Knowing that my research will contribute to its conservation is a major driving force for me. I am also passionate about mentoring students, both undergraduates and graduates (post-graduates). I especially love the opportunity to take students into the field and share the wonder and excitement of research with them. In 2019, I led an all-women, all-student research team on a winter Antarctic campaign to investigate how Antarctic krill survive and thrive in the winter. This austral winter 2022, I will lead another all-women, all-student team to follow up on those experiments!

 

What’s your message to the world?

To young, aspiring scientists/explorers/world-changers, don’t listen to the doubters and haters around you. If you have a passion and are driven to do something, do it! To anyone reading this, I am writing this on Earth Day and my message to the humans of Earth (and to the few orbiting up above us – though I suspect they already know this) is that our blue planet is a precious, abundant, life-giving one. We have separated ourselves from Earth and in so doing have disrupted the delicate balance of our planet. It’s time for us to reconnect with each other and Earth and to shift towards peace.

Leaning against the side of a Zodiac, Manuela holds a crossbow used to tag Humpback whales in Admiralty Bay, King George Island in the Antarcti Peninsula..

Manuela Bassoi, PhD

Discipline: Biological Oceanography (Cetacean Research)

Age: 46

Nationality: Brazil and Italy

Organisation:University of Rio Grande, FURG (Brazil)

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: ResearchGate

 

What’s the work that you do?

My passion has always been working with animals in the field, mainly in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic. There are always so many exciting encounters and moments! The experiences I have had in many projects motivate me to keep contributing to polar science and education.

 

What’s your message to the world?

Keep your passion and stay curious! The natural world is fantastic and we all depend on it. Care about every kind of environment, from the closest to the furthest ones (like the Polar Regions). We are all connected!

Claudia, in orange-and-gray wet weather gear, hat and sunglasses, is pictured in front of water and stark icebergs.

Claudia Holgate, MSc

Discipline: Polar expedition leader

Age: 50

Nationality: South Africa

Organisation: Freelance

Regional focus:  Arctic and Antarctic

Social media: Website and Facebook

 

What’s the work that you do?

I spend 8 months of the year in the most beautiful wilderness areas on the planet. There is nothing better than being able to share my passion for the polar regions with tourists who go home with a greater understanding and appreciation for the importance of the Poles and how their actions at home affect areas far outside of their consciousness. Having people sitting on my boat with tears streaming down their face, because this is the most beautiful/spiritual/awe-inspiring experience, is why I love my job.

 

What’s your message to the world?

The polar regions are the “Canary in the coalmine” when it comes to climate change, and we are seeing significant changes year-on-year. We need to spread the word about how important these regions are and why they are worth protecting. In addition to creating ambassadors, we need people to understand how their simple actions at home can have devastating consequences or can be part of the solution. My message specifically to young women is that there is space to grow and make a meaningful impact in whichever field you choose, but especially, in all things polar. Take no heed of naysayers, follow your dreams and become an inspiration to those who do not have the opportunities.

Joëlle sits on a skidoo ......

Joëlle Voglimacci-Stephanopoli, MSc

Discipline: Remote sensing, coastal geomorphology and snow

Age: 29

Nationality: Canada and France

Organisation: Université du Québec à Rimouski (Canada)

Regional focus:  Arctic

Social media: ResearchGate and Twitter

 

What’s the work that you do?

The collaborative work, the need for creativity and problem solving definitely keeps me going! It’s a bit of a culmination of all the skills I’ve acquired and in which I love to challenge myself. Finally (and of course!) it’s always a pleasure to go to the Arctic and to be in its landscapes.

 

What’s your message to the world?

How people see you does not define what you are capable of! I grew up in a rural area where higher education was not encouraged much. I was considered the artist of the family, struggled with maths, and never thought I would finish undergrad studies…. and then I finally found my vocation in physical geography and worked my way into Arctic science. If you strive to do something that may seem out of your skills, give it a try, persevere and don’t hesitate to ask questions and ask for help! You may  surprise yourself.

Rae is standing on the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyaktuk with two pingos on the horizon. Photo taken during her winter field work as part of her master's degree in physical geography.

Rae Landriau

Discipline: Contaminant transport in permafrost (drilling waste management and monitoring)

Age: 22

Nationality: Canada

Organisation: FILL IN STILL

Regional focus:  Arctic

Social media: LinkedIn and Instagram

 

What’s the work that you do?

What keeps me going is seeing how my research directly has an impact. For example, my work is partnered with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. Seeing how my research, methodologies, and collaboration with them directly impact the programs they’re running and their work, fuels me. Working collaboratively on this project and seeing its applicability is very rewarding and pushes me forward on tough days. Another thing that drives me is how engaging this work is. I am learning something new all the time, and I am constantly being challenged to grow.

 

What’s your message to the world?

There are opportunities all around you, so send that email, follow up with people, and don’t be afraid to go and put yourself out there. So often, we’re so afraid to fail that we don’t even start, but failure is part of life, so put yourself out there because you might stumble upon the most life-changing experience. If I hadn’t followed my own advice, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and quite frankly, my life would be completely different.

Iglika kneels on a rocky shore on ivingston Island, Antarctica, holding a chinstrap penguin. As the designated "penguin hunter"/field assistant in a biological project, she had to catch penguins and hold them for biologists to take blood samples for DNA analysis.

Iglika Trifonova

Discipline: Communications, Education and Outreach

Age: 46

Nationality: Bulgaria

Organisation: Bulgarian Antarctic Institute; APECS Bulgaria; Sofia University (Bulgaria)

Regional focus:  Antarctic

Social media: Facebook and Facebook

 

What’s the work that you do?

I am excited about my work. It allows me to be with the scientists who make their research in Antarctica and transmit their results to the society. I like to show the importance of their research and the difficulties they passed to do it. I am especially passionate about doing outreach in schools, because it’s so interesting to be a polar scientist and I like when students understand it. Sometimes it changes their future and they decide to become researchers as well.

 

What’s your message to the world?

Dream! All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them! Fifteen years ago, I went to Antarctica for the first time as a photographer in a Bulgarian Antarctic expedition and that experience changed my life. I was so impressed by the spirit of collaboration between nations and people’s solidarity which I saw in Antarctica that I started to dream to come back there as a scientist. I participated three times more in different scientific projects led by my biologist colleagues. But finally my dream came true, and in 2020 I started my own sociological project. I study people in Antarctica because the Icy Continent is very important for the future of humanity. I would like to extend the principles of respect and mutual support that we live in Antarctica to the entire planet. I firmly believe that this is the only way if we want to save this planet and ourselves with it.