Stephanie is in Fjellheisen atop a hill overlooking Tromso, Norway. Snow-capped mountains in the background.

Stephanie Ramsaroop

Discipline: Environmental Management/Marine Mammal Conservation

Age: 37

Nationality: Trinidad and Tobago

Organisation: Freelance consultant, currently on study leave

Regional focus: Arctic

Social media: Instagram and LinkedIn

 

What’s the work that you do?

I am a freelance Marine Mammal Observer and I monitor and mitigate for wildlife during surveying activities offshore all around the world. I have been in this field for over 13 years.

 

What keeps you going?

I am passionate about protecting the animals and their homes. Although it may be a difficult job living at sea for long periods of time I like to think of making a difference in the bigger picture. What also keeps me going is the ability to make an impact on other young women, to help support and encourage them to be a part of the marine world as we need more voices to support each other.

 

What’s your message to the world?

The opportunity for change is out there, we just need to come out of our comfort zone go after them. It starts with us as we should be the change we want to see in the world. No one will do it for you!

Tanish....

Tanish Peelgrane

Discipline: Marine sciences

Age: 43

Nationality: Australia, USA

OrganisationLindblad/National Geographic

Regional focus: Arctic and Antarctic

Social media: Twitter

 

What’s the work that you do?

As an undersea specialist and expedition diver, my job is document document the vast array of species, interations, and habitats in polar marine environments. In addition to documenting what’s happening under there, I use the footage to educate diverse audiences on the critical and fascinating points of marine life.

 

What keeps you going?

The best part of the job is seeing the weird ways that different things thrive in that sub-freezing world and the awe and surpise it inspires in people. The worst part is the feeling of my hands thawing after a dive. I also love the perspective shift—somewhere that can feel so inhospitable as a human is a place where others thrive. It reminds me again and again that what we perceive is not baseline, it’s not what is, it’s our perspective.

 

What’s your message to the world?

We’ve all heard that we know more about the moon than our oceans. There is so much that is unknown about the largest portion of our planet, and so many possbililites for biomimicry are in these extreme (for us) environments.

NOT THE PHOTO

Jessica Kehala Studer, MD

Discipline: Spacemedicine, Spacephysiology, Physiology in extreme environments

Age: 32

Nationality: Switzerland

Organisation: ESA (European Space Agency) with IPEV (Institut Polaire Paul Emil Victor, France) and PNRA (National Antarctic Research program, Italy)

Regional focus: Antarctic

Social media: LinkedIn and Instagram

 

What’s the work that you do?

As an ESA research MD I’ll spend a year isolated at Concordia Station, Antarctica, during one year, studying physiological and psychological changes in a 13-member crew. Like an astronaut on the ISS, I will conduct experiments on crew members to obtain data that is important for future space exploration missions especially towards long-duration missions to the moon, Mars or beyond. At 3800 masl, Concordia replicates space conditions, aiding human physiology research in extreme environments and technology testing, with potential benefits for both space science and earthly disease research.

 

What keeps you going?

On the one hand, Concordia links my interests in medicine, space physiology, and extreme environments. But not only can I perform various experiments with different backgrounds, but I also experience the extreme environment on my own body and soul which makes the experience even more unique. I like studying extreme environments as it allows insight into human physiology and the adaptation of the body to extreme conditions, which drives human endeavor not only in space research but also in the research of earthly diseases, as data can be used to understand present-day diseases and to advance treatments.

 

What’s your message to the world?

Making the impossible possible has always fascinated me, and life has given me an opportunity now. An opportunity that I would like to share with others and motivate people, especially the young girl I was, some time ago, to reach for the stars even if it sometimes seemed impossible. The extreme environment of Antarctica makes it nearly impossible to reach, let alone survive, yet it offers us so many treasures. It holds insights about our planet, our universe, and, not least, about ourselves. Antarctica also reminds us of how small and vulnerable we are in the face of the immense forces of nature, sharpening our awareness of the need to protect and respect our Earth, our universe, and ourselves. It is a place where science is a universal endeavour that transcends borders, race, politics and other human distinctions. And it is a place where shared commitment stands for understanding the world, addressing global challenges and promoting the well-being of humanity as a whole. I guess my message would be, Antarctica is a place where the young little girl may reach for the stars no matter what.

Maria...

María José Nariño

Discipline: Antarctic phytoplankton and ecology

Age: 24

Nationality: Colombia

Organisation: IDEAL Center of Chile

Regional focus: Antarctic

Social media: TBC

 

What’s the work that you do?

Research work on the Antarctic phytoplankton community and the changes it has had in terms of composition, abundance and biomass over time considering climatic indices and seasonality

 

What keeps you going?

I like what I do because I love doing science, knowing that in some way I can contribute something to the planet, in this case with research. In addition, knowing how polar ecosystems behave has an important relationship with even tropical ecosystems

 

What’s your message to the world?

Taking care of the Antarctic ecosystem is of great importance to the world, we depend on the climatic regulation that this environment generates, so protecting it must be fundamental for us as humans because if we continue as we do today, there will come a point where there is no turning back and our poles melt and increase the sea level worldwide, affecting everything in its path

Eva, in red puffer jacket and blue hat, stands inside a red container on Adelaide Island, Antarctica.

Eva Riehle, MSc

Discipline: Environmental toxicology, polar microbial diversity

Age: 29

Nationality: Germany

OrganisationUniversity of Konstanz (Germany)

Regional focus: Arctic and Antarctic

Social media: Instagram and Twitter

 

What’s the work that you do?

I am a scientist working primarily on cyanobacteria in polar regions. I study their contribution to microbial mats in the Arctic and Antarctica, which toxins they produce, and how climate change will impact them. Part of my job is to go to remote regions in the Arctic and Antarctica to collect samples and set up experiments. At the university, I do plenty of DNA metabarcoding and bioinformatics to study microbial diversity and mass spectrometry to analyze the presence of cyanotoxins in the environment. I also teach several courses for Bachelor and Master students about ecology in polar regions and the presence and fate of natural toxins.

 

 

 

What keeps you going?

I am working on such an interesting project and get to combine cool research methods with a topic that (generally speaking) concerns almost everyone. My job allowed me to experience far away, remote places and I feel incredibly privileged I get to work in the Arctic and Antarctica. There are new challenges every day, from changing weather conditions to broken equipment, and I love figuring out a creative way to make the science happen. When I am home, I enjoy teaching courses at the university to share my knowledge and inspire other scientists to work on projects they really care about.

 

What’s your message to the world?

The sense of community I’ve experienced at polar research stations is outstanding, and I think a little bit of that supportive and encouraging environment in everyday “normal life” wouldn’t hurt. Staying in the Arctic and Antarctica also makes you realize again how precious the Earth is and that we must try and protect it as best we can! Climate change is real, it’s fast and has dramatic effects. Lastly, if there is something you really want to do, be brave and dare to dream. It can be daunting at times, but most of the time it is worth it in the end!