Meet an Antarctic Ambassador
Antarctic Ambassadors is a collaboration of people who care passionately about Antarctica & protecting its unique landscape.
Meet an Antarctic Ambassador
Dr. Alex Cowan
Senior Polar Field Guide
Hello! My name is Alex Cowan. I live on a croft overlooking the sea on the west coast of Scotland and I have worked as a polar guide for an @iaato_org member operator since 2011. I’ve always been interested in the natural world, and I came to the polar guiding world through a mixture of science, having recently completed a PhD in earth sciences, and a passion for the outdoors.
As well as leading ship-based expeditions, I have worked with the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands on guideline reviews. This was a fascinating experience, getting a little glimpse into how the government views visitor activities, and it was really fun getting to hike on the island!
As a certified Senior Polar Guide, I really recognise the importance of professionalism in guiding and today, I sit on the board of directors of the Polar Tourism Guides Association. I’m proud to be a part of an organisation that is helping to shape the development of polar guiding of the future.
I am also passionate about realising the research and data collection potential of the diverse fleet of responsible polar tourism vessels, and I am a co-founder of the Polar Citizen Science Collective, an organisation devoted to achieving this. My first science project on a tourism vessel was a sea ice data collection program. Since 2015, this project has grown and we are currently testing a sea ice data collection module within the Polar Collective mobile app, so one day soon everyone will be able to contribute to our understanding of the state of our polar oceans and to the development of ice charting.
Hi! My name is Maitha Alkaabi and I’m an engineer, diplomat and published researcher in Chemistry and Environmental Engineering from the United Arab Emirates. Since visiting the Antarctic continent in 2012, I have been advocating for the preservation of Antarctica’s natural resources and environment. I strongly believe that the white continent needs international representation in order to protect it from the impact of climate change. Already, this remarkable part of the world has been severely affected by rising temperatures and I’m passionate about ensuring that we continue to preserve this important wilderness through education and action.
Hi! My name is Olivia, I’m 11 years old and live in Cumbria, UK. I am an Antarctic Ambassador. I love Antarctica because of the lovely amount of animals, the snow (since there isn’t a lot in England) and the history. I landed in Esperanza Bay, thinking it would just be a quick tour, but instead, I learned all about the history of Esperanza. Also, there was absolutely no pollution, which is great! The best thing I learned on my trip was that throwing away the tiniest bit of plastic can cause a big change. If I threw away a plastic bag and it landed in the ocean, a penguin might mistake it for food and eat it. Then they would cough it up for their chick, who would swallow it, and they could possibly die. My best experience in Antarctica, was when I was in an en-suite and I looked out of a window just in time to see a whale breech. For those of you who don’t know what breeching is, it is when a whale jumps right out of the water. I was amazed at how such a big animal could get its entire body-weight out of the water. The best thing about my trip was when I was in a Zodiac (a kind of inflatable speed boat) and I saw Adelies or gentoos or chinstraps jumping out of the water right next to me. It was so cool! We must visit Antarctic carefully, because it is a beautiful place, it is also one of the only places not polluted, meaning that we should keep it that way. Also, if we didn’t visit it carefully, it wouldn’t be a magical place anymore; that is a very important thing. If I met anyone who didn’t think Antarctica was special, I would say, “Look around you, you see tarmac, houses and rubbish, don’t you ever want to get away from it? Antarctica is one of the few places where there is none of this, people should care about it for the freedom it has”.
Naturalist & Poet
Hi! My name’s Elizabeth Bradfield and I am a naturalist and poet. I started working as a deckhand on expedition ships in 1994, and that was the start of both my Antarctic obsession (I read Alfred Lansing’s “Endurance” and was hooked) and my lifelong pursuit of natural history. By apprenticing to some amazing naturalists, I learned both how to become a better observer and storyteller, and I love weaving together science, history, and culture as a way of experiencing places.
My first season in Antarctica was 2011, and getting to put boots on the ground and ice I’d read about for so long was a dream come true. I am a poet as well as a naturalist. Author of four books, two of which focus on Antarctica, I teach creative writing at Brandeis University. I believe that paying close attention to the world around us – by looking, photographing, taking data for research, or seeking poems – we can hone our ability to care for the places we live in and travel through.
At home on Cape Cod, I help with research projects on whales and seals and do what I can to advocate for an ocean that is less noisy, less junk-filled, and more aware and respectful of the wild marine diversity we often only comprehend in snippets.
Hello! My name is Alistair and I live in Cumbria UK. I’m going to be talking about my experience in Antarctica and why it should be kept safe! I love Antarctica because of the variety of different animals and the amazing landscape. It is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. When I saw my first iceberg I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open while gazing in amazement. You have probably seen things like nature programs about Antarctica. You know there are a lot of animals when you watch it but how many? Well as soon as I got my first sight of the peninsula I started to see everything! Whales surfacing here and there, penguins jumping in and out of the water! It was awesome!
Hey I’m gonna admit I got sea sick but it was worth it! Anyway the rough sea just felt like an entrance to another dimension!
I learned that Antarctica should be kept as safe as possible. All the pollution going around the world is warming the Southern and Northern hemisphere. This is taking away all the snow and ice and without snow and ice, Antarctica just isn’t Antarctica. Scientists say that if we don’t act all the summer ice will disappear! There are other things I learned to like the life cycle of krill and what salps are so I’ll tell you that now to. The life cycle of krill? Pretty simple they lay eggs on the ice, eggs fall to sea bed, krill hatch, they swim back up to ice, feed on algae, lay eggs and it starts again! Salps? They look like jelly with orange peppercorns inside them!
My best experience in Antarctica was when the whales breached really high out of the water! I can’t help it here’s a story! So we were getting changed out of our kit when I looked out of the porthole and saw a whale surfacing right next to our cabin! It was so close I could see it’s blow hole!
We must visit Antarctica carefully because if we don’t the environment will rot away. Also if we bring different wildlife there it might change the ecosystem, and harm wildlife that is supposed to be there!
Hi! My name is Lauren Farmer and I’m an expedition leader across distant latitudes from the Antarctic Peninsula, to the Norwegian and Russian Arctic. It was a wandering path of life experience which led me to work in the polar regions.
Born in Lismore, Australia, I spent my formative years in the mid-west of the United States and, following an interest in the entertainment industry, I initially studied in Los Angeles before spending a decade working in television marketing in New York City. An enthusiasm for storytelling led to an exciting career as a travel and portrait photographer and this is where I was first introduced to the polar regions.
Now in my seventh year as a polar guide, the Antarctic Peninsula is beginning to feel like a second home and is truly the most beautiful and magnificent place on earth.
While the frozen south has definitely captured my heart, I have also journeyed to the North Pole 15 times as co-lead on a project collecting sea ice and atmospheric data in the hope of contributing to a better understanding of our changing climate.
I’m a proud fellow of The Explorers Club and have a passion for the intersection of tourism and science and how the polar tourism industry can support ongoing research at the poles. Most recently I co-founded the Polar Citizen Science Collective, a non-profit organization which facilitates ship-based citizen science programs.
Not only did my first taste of Antarctica back in 2012 dramatically alter the professional course of my life, it introduced me to so many of my closest friends, one of whom became my partner. Life works in weird and wonderful ways!
Dr. Michaela Mayer
Marine Biologist, Polar Ecologist, Ornithologist & Scientific Diver
Hello. My name is Michaela Mayer and I am a zoologist, marine biologist, polar ecologist, ornithologist, scientific diver, car mechanic, and a judoka. My first season in Antarctica was 1997 when I was a PhD student doing research on marine unicellular organisms (foraminiferas) in the shallow waters of Antarctica. I collected my samples scuba diving, which made me immediately addicted to this continent. In my first season I flew in supported by Argentine military logistics, but in my second season an IAATO tour operator took me to my research destination.
I was so thrilled that it is possible to show the beauty of Antarctica to non-scientific visitors. As soon I finished my doctoral thesis, I remembered that and since then I’ve come back every southern summer as a lecturer or expedition leader.
In these jobs I can bring all my education and skills together – academic and hands-on. I love bringing scientific papers to ‘edu-tainment’ lectures. I love being outdoors, driving Zodiacs, going on an ice field hike, being surrounded by mother nature at its finest.
At home in northern Germany, I work with several projects aiming sustainability for any activities at sea, including offshore wind farms and cruise tourism. I believe that everyone can make a contribution to preserving the wellbeing of our planet.
For me, working in the Antarctic also means working in an international team. United by the fascination for nature, the Antarctic proves that a peaceful collaboration between different cultures and nations is possible. This also applies to people on research stations, research ships or passenger ships. We are the World.
Geography PHD, University of Cambridge
Hello! I’m Morgan Seag, a PhD student in Geography at the University of Cambridge. My research, based at the Scott Polar Research Institute, centers on science, policy, and social change in Antarctica. More specifically, my dissertation asks how scientific institutions in Antarctica have evolved to become more gender inclusive over time. One of the most exciting parts of my research is building up an oral history of progress for women in Antarctica: I conduct interviews with women who were among the first generations to work in Antarctica, documenting their incredible stories and adding new voices to the historical record.
Growing up in and around New York City, I didn’t know much about Antarctica. But once it entered my radar, I became fascinated: here was a place that seemed just about as different from NYC as possible, where the natural environment was massive, spectacular, and indomitable. I made it my goal to get there someday. A few years after college I got my wish: I spent two seasons as a support contractor for the US Antarctic Program, working in the galley at McMurdo Station. Working in Antarctica was an incredible privilege: the landscape, the science, and the people all changed my life.
I ended up going to grad school to study Antarctica. In addition to my research, I’m also a member of the international Council of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, which I co-chaired last year; I’ve served as a rapporteur to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting; and I’ve worked in science outreach and science education. I’m also working on a book about women in Antarctica, focused on the life story of one of my favorite characters from Antarctic history: Dr. Lois Jones.
Through this work I advocate for the conservation of Antarctica’s environment; for an appreciation of scientific cooperation in the region; and for the potential of Antarctic work to help us move more inclusively toward a better future for all humanity.
Hello! My name is Pete Convey and I am a terrestrial ecologist and self-proclaimed ‘glorified natural historian’ who loves to enthuse about the natural world. I have more than 30 years experience of working with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and in a wide range of polar environments including 19 summers and one winter in Antarctica, as well as work in Tierra del Fuego and in Arctic Svalbard, Greenland, and Russia. Originally an insect biologist (my own PhD was on dragonflies, nothing remotely Antarctic!), I now have very wide interests in Antarctica, its environments and biodiversity, and how we humans interact with and influence it.
I play a very active international role in the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Until recently I was chair of SCAR’s Development Council, and have been in the leadership team of three generations of SCAR’s international Science Research Programmes: currently Deputy Co-Chair of the ‘State of the Antarctic Ecosystem’ programme, and previously Co-Chair of the ‘Evolution and Biodiversity in Antarctica’ programme (2006-2013), and founding member and steering committee member of the ‘Regional Sensitivity to Climate Change in Antarctica’ programme (1999-2006).
Understanding Antarctica enables us to understand more about our incredible planet and how to protect it and its biodiversity from irreversible change. But ambassadorship doesn’t have to require a science degree or years of experience working in the extreme conditions of Antarctica. It begins at home with us simply taking an interest, and in our everyday actions and behaviour – small things that collectively can make a larger impact for good.
Responsible Tour Operator Founder
I’m Robyn Woodhead; adventurer, responsible tour operator founder and mother of two. In 2004, during an expedition to cross the entire continent of Antarctica, I ended up living in a tent on my own for two months straight. I was waiting to fly into the South Pole to resupply the other part of our expedition and only had two books, one satellite phone and a single pack of wet wipes to wash with. It was a time of total introspection in an isolated and extreme environment. It was also my first ever Antarctic experience…. It clearly worked, as I am now a polar addict.
After an expedition to Antarctica in 2006, I turned my attention to the other end of the planet and skied to the North Pole, becoming the first South African to reach both the North and South Pole. Later that year, I set up my own @iaato_org member tour company with my husband Patrick, a fellow polar explorer. I am inspired by the great polar explorers of old, such as Nansen, Arnesen, and Shackleton. The sheer tenacity and endurance they showed overcoming impossible odds has always been an inspiration to me.
Many of our clients are impassioned by what they see in Antarctica and ask how they might contribute to its ongoing protection. First-hand experience of these magical places, combined with responsible tourism practices and education through lectures, Antarctic Ambassador programs and citizen science, creates ambassadors for continued environmental protection. I’m really proud to be part of that ambassador-creation process.
Assistant Communications and Engagement Manager - IAATO
My name is Vicky Dowdeswell (@VixBrophy), the IAATO Secretariat’s newest team member. As Assistant Communications and Engagement Manager for IAATO I work to ensure the smooth running of IAATO’s online communications, sharing our mission of safe and environmentally responsible private-sector travel to Antarctica with the world; from updates to IAATO’s stringent guidelines, biosecurity advice for those planning to visit, and our support of environmental projects such as the UN Clean Seas campaign.
I’ve been working in responsible Antarctic travel since 2017 when I joined the marketing department for a sustainable polar expedition company, as well supporting the Weddell Sea Expedition by sharing its story online, but my passion for the polar regions began long before then. Growing up in a family of glaciologists and polar scientists, learning about the climate, environment, history and wildlife of the polar regions was a part of day to day life. Now, I put that knowledge into my job; sharing all the work that goes in to protecting Antarctica’s unique landscape and creating ambassadors from those who visit.
My name is Patrick Deprez, I’m an Environmental Scientist and I am honoured to be an Antarctic Ambassador. I am passionate about Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
My first experience in the great southern frozen continent began in 1983, when I sailed down south on the Danish ship, Nella Dan. I was employed as a Marine Scientist to do research over a 15-month stint at Davis Station for the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions. I researched the chemistry of rare meromictic lakes in the Vestfold Hills, Princess Elizabeth Land. This unique and special experience changed my life in profound ways. I felt that Antarctica was another world altogether as it was so foreign and wild.
I published my research results on the highly volatile organo-sulfur gases released by microbes and algal blooms, including dimethyl sulfide (DMS), which is believed to cause the formation of clouds. In 1994 I headed back down south to undertake a preliminary assessment of contaminated sites at Casey Station and at sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. This work resulted in the commencement of the Australian Antarctic Division’s Human Impacts Programme, which continues to work in cleaning-up historical contamination such as fuel spills.
I later produced the ‘Protocol for Acceptance of Wastes from the Antarctic to Tasmania’ for the Office of Antarctic Affairs (Tasmania State Government). The Protocol is a key document which provides relevant information on regulatory requirements for importing waste from the Antarctic to Australia by any foreign country, including all the Antarctic Treaty Parties.
Photographer, Drone Operator & Film-maker
Hi, my name is Bruno Cazarini and I am a professional photographer, drone operator, film-maker and general naturalist. Specializing in digital photography since 2007, I have a passion for teaching and lecturing about photography.
I was born in the south-east of Brazil where I had the privilege of growing up very close to the endangered Atlantic rain forest, underneath its humid dense vegetation and surrounded by an extremely rich fauna, where the jungle meets the ocean. An unconventional education, and a loving home, led me on my artistic journey from an early age.
As an award-winning photographer & film-maker, I have already traveled to more than 130 different countries, and for the last 13 years I’ve traveled on ocean-going vessels. My latest work includes photographic expeditions through all seven continents, focusing especially on the polar regions.
Photographing Antarctica for me has been a dream since a very early age, inspired by the story of Frank Hurley on Endurance’s final expedition. My very first visit to Antarctica was in 2015, and I have had the privilege of visiting the white continent almost every season since.
My name is Mohit Bhandari and I first visited Antarctica in 2014. I’ve always been passionate about travel and the environment and am a keen supporter of the World Wildlife Foundation.
Antarctica’s beauty is hard to comprehend; its flora, fauna and the landscape itself is simply extraordinary. Even the human connections I made during my expedition, like the friends for life I made during my voyage, only added to the incredible nature of my trip. Crossing the Drake Passage with the amazing onboard crew was one of the craziest experiences of my life.
Since I first stepped onto the white continent and saw the Antarctic landscape, I have become critically aware of the importance of environmental protection. Since then, I have made a daily effort to protect the vulnerable regions of the world through my own small actions. Whether that be through reducing waste by recycling more, using renewable energy, making sure I travel in an ecologically sensitive way, ensuring my business practices are ethical and using my voice to educate others about the importance of protecting the Antarctic environment.
Antarctica showcases nature at its best. It’s important it stays that way!
My name is Ella Potts and I’m a relatively new addition to the Antarctic community, having worked as a Naturalist with an IAATO member operator in Antarctica for two seasons. My journey to the frozen continent really started a decade ago with my first wildlife guiding job at sea in the Hebrides of Scotland, where I now currently live. Back then I was still in the early stages of studying marine biology at university. I jumped on a train and made the 11hr journey up to the west coast of Scotland for the first time. The job involved spotting whales, enthusing guests on the specifics of their life history and scrubbing the decks. My passion has always been for whales – and during the Austral summer, the Southern Ocean becomes the world’s largest feeding area for marine mammals, so I feel incredibly lucky to get to work in this magical place. In my role as a naturalist, I give lectures on marine mammals, lead hikes and drive our Zodiac tender boats, often through challenging icy sea conditions and in the big swell that the Southern Ocean exerts on her Sub-Antarctic islands.
At the moment, I am lucky enough to be working as a researcher on a natural history documentary about the wildlife of this last, great, wilderness. It’s good to know that during these strange COVID times, I can still work to inspire and inform the public about the beautiful species that live among the ice.
Looking to the future, I am working to be able to follow my passion and push towards my dream of conducting scientific research into the whales of the Southern Ocean. I hope that I can also continue to educate audiences on the importance of Antarctic ecosystems and inspire people to love and protect this landscape. Importantly, my journey as an Antarctic Ambassador is still developing.
Wherever you are in your life journey and however humble you think your beginnings, know that you will always have a voice and if there is something that you love, you can always be an ambassador and make a difference towards protecting it – however small you may perceive your impact to be.
Hello, my name is Robin Aiello and I LOVE Antarctica. It is my passion.
I loved Antarctica from the first time I debarked our Hercules C-130 and set foot on the frozen ice of McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea in November 1988. I was part of a team of six scuba divers from Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (Florida), funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to investigate the diversity of jellyfish and pteropods in the Ross Sea.
For three months we lived in tents at Cape Evans, diving under the 5m thick sea ice. In those days, the gear was not as advanced as it is today, and I remember being cold – colder than cold – submerged in -1.9C waters. Since we were diving in depths of more than 2000m (called blue-water diving) we felt like we were on a spacewalk – suspended in the middle of nowhere. Sometimes there was nothing to see, but other times we were surrounded by Emperor penguins on their way to forage, or saw Orcas swim past in the distance, or approached by curious Weddell Seals.
I always wanted to return to Antarctica, and my dream came true in 1998 when I was approached by an @iaato_org member operator to join their team for their inaugural voyage to the Antarctic Peninsula. Since then, I return every year, spending three months onboard expedition ships guiding, educating and sharing my passion with guests from all over the world. One of my proudest personal accomplishments is that just recently, I have had two researchers confirm that it seems like I was the first woman scuba diver in Antarctica.
Antarctica is not just a place, but a state of mind. It is a place of stunning beauty, a deep calmness with majestic scenery.
In the words of Andrew Denton, “If Antarctica were music it would be Mozart. Art, and it would be Michelangelo. Literature, and it would be Shakespeare. And yet it is something even greater; the only place on earth that is still as it should be. May we never tame it.”
Polar Scientist, Naturalist & Photographer
Hi! My name is Eva Prendergast and I completed my master’s at the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge and the British Antarctic Survey. My thesis focused on the knowledge gap surrounding blue whale genetics and included the drilling of whale bones collected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
For the last seven years, I have been an active member on-board research boats, whale watching vessels, ferries and cruises as a researcher, naturalist, photographer, educator, surveyor, skipper and wildlife officer.
I have a particular interest in scientific communication and making research accessible to our community. I have previously presented to a wide variety of audiences, from school visits to senior cruises to international conferences, using visuals to make complex subjects accessible and easy to understand. As a professional, award-winning photographer I believe one of the primary tools to captivate audiences is through photography and videography, as it provides a visually immersive and stimulating method of engagement.
I am proud to sit on the committee of the UK Polar Network (UKPN) and be an IAATO Antarctic Ambassador.
Antarctic Visitor, Photographer
My name is Malin Hanning and I live in Sweden, I am an Antarctic Ambassador.
I have been to Antarctica twice in my life and am so happy to have experienced this continent so full of life and ice. I fell in love with Antarctica from the very first time I caught a glimpse of the continent, and even more so when I set foot on it to explore and learn more. Antarctica has a sensitive environment that we are all responsible for preserving, wherever we live and come from. It is a stunning and peaceful land with so much life. Life that humans could easily destroy by polluting our planet.
I have always had a great passion for ice and cold remote places. They fascinate me. Animals are also of great interest, and to learn about species evolving to survive in even remote places like Antarctica is fascinating to me. I’m passionate about educating others about what I have learned about the white continent and what I have seen.
Antarctica changed me for the better and I would love to experience its vast landscape again. I am proud to call myself an Antarctic Ambassador.
Honorary Information Officer for ACAP
Hello. My name is John Cooper and I am the honorary Information Officer for the international Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), which strives to conserve albatross and petrel populations by coordinating international activities. I have worked with ACAP since an agreement was first proposed in the 1990s. This year, I am helping to raise awareness of the inaugural World Albatross Day on 19 June, proposed by ACAP and supported by @iaato_org and Antarctic Ambassadors, to raise awareness of the conservation crisis facing albatrosses and petrels.
Previously I was an academic researcher studying South African and sub-Antarctic seabirds at the University of Cape Town, followed by a decade working on the human history of sub-Antarctic islands at the University of Stellenbosch.
Growing up in the wilderness of the African bush, I developed a love of nature and a lifelong desire to study birds in their natural habitats. I worked to enhance the protection of Antarctic and sub-Antarctic seabirds within the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) by chairing its bird group and then by initiating BirdLife International’s Seabird Conservation Programme. I have been active in researching and authoring management plans, species action plans, World Heritage Natural Site and Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance nominations, and environmental legislation. I have received the Pacific Seabird Group’s Lifetime Achievement Award and BirdLife South Africa’s Gill Memorial Medal for my lifetime contribution to the knowledge of southern African birds.
After a 40-year career travelling to distant and usually unoccupied islands, my fieldwork activities have come to an end, but ambassadorship for these precious creatures and the places they call home doesn’t end with retirement. I keep in close touch with albatrosses, and the people who study and love them, by attending ACAP’s annual meetings, by correspondence, and by writing daily posts for the ACAP website (www.acap.aq).
Ambassadorship for the islands of the Southern Ocean is important. Out of sight to most, they should not be out of mind, for the value of their biodiversity and as signals of climate change alike.
Hello! My name is Pablo Zenteno. I’ve been working in Antarctica, South of Marguerite Bay at the Fleming Glacier and the Antarctic Peninsula, for six years, and specifically as a lecturer and educational coordinator with an iaato.org member operator for the last three. I love the mix of physical endurance, intellectual creativity, and emotional connection with the team and passengers.
I studied Geography at the Universidad de Chile and have many years of experience carrying our glaciological research. During my university years, I focused on the application of satellite images to study the effect of volcanic activity on glaciers and climate change. While working at the university I taught the principles of glaciology, geomorphology, and interpretation of satellite images.
I landed in Antarctica for the first time in 2009 during the International Polar Year as a research associate on a project aimed to better understand the relationships between ice shelves and glaciers. Nowadays I lead a team of geoscientists and mountaineers to study the dynamic glaciers and snowpack in the Central Andes, but I continue to keep an eye from space on the rapid changes to Antarctic glaciers, and collaborate with universities to sample snow and track black carbon particles on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Dr. Joanna Kafarowski
My name is Joanna Kafarowski. Writing about women and polar exploration has always been a passion of mine. My past work has been based in the circumpolar north and I’ve participated in a North Pole Last Degree Expedition but I have been researching and working on Antarctic issues for the last few years. During a promotional tour for my book about Arctic explorer Louise Arner Boyd, I met the daughter of Antarctic pioneer Jackie Ronne. Louise was a friend and mentor to Jackie and they were both keen members of the Society of Woman Geographers. When it came time to start work on a new book, I’d found my subject! I am currently completing the manuscript for the first biography of Jackie Ronne who was the first American woman to actively participate in an Antarctic expedition and one of two women who over-wintered on the continent for the first time. She is primarily remembered as the wife of Finn Ronne but her own life story is remarkable.
A first-generation Canadian, I received my bachelor’s degree in English from Carleton University in Ottawa and my master’s degree in geography from the University of Victoria. I discovered my love for polar regions while studying for my Ph.D in Natural Resource Management and Environmental Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia. My focus was on gender and natural resource management in the north and I wrote, consulted and lectured in this field both in Canada and internationally. I particularly enjoyed working with Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association and the Arctic Council. My book The Polar Adventures of a Rich American Dame: A Life of Louise Arner Boyd (was the first comprehensive biography of the remarkable explorer, photographer, geographer, philanthropist and socialite who organized, financed and participated in seven expeditions to Greenland, Franz Josef Land, Jan Mayen Land and Spitsbergen.
Field researcher & PhD student
Hola! I’m Daniela Cajiao, I am a field researcher and PhD student at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid where I am studying the social dimensions of Antarctic tourism. I obtained my Master’s degree in Environmental Management in 2010 and a Bachelor in Tourism in 2005. I have been involved in conservation and sustainable tourism planning within protected areas, particularly in the Galapagos Archipelago and in other coastal and marine protected areas in Ecuador.
My main Antarctic research interests revolve around tourism management and decision-making processes related to tourism and non-governmental activities in Antarctica and last year I became the joint-first recipient of the IAATO COMNAP Fellowship. Being in the field; breathing that cold and pure wind and discovering again and again, how soundless, timeless, huge and deep Antarctica can be is what I love most about what I do. I enjoy seeing visitors amazed – and sometimes speechless- because of Antarctica and how captivated they are by penguins, elephant seals and the landscape itself.
My biggest lesson from this incredible region is to be patient, respectful, love nature and appreciate this timeless and unique place. Contribute, learn and share.
Assistant Expedition Leader
Hola! My name is Mariela Cornejo, I’m an Assistant Expedition Leader for an IAATO member operator. I started working in Antarctica in 2014, but the first time I dreamt about working in Antarctica was back in 1991 when I was six years old and my father was offered a job in one of the Argentinian stations as a teacher.
I love being able to combine all of my hobbies into one role description: boating, hiking, guiding, organizing things, logistics, lots and lots of spreadsheets, lecturing, talking to amazing people, sharing my days with people from all over the world, teaching and learning, facilitating science projects to people who thought it was inaccessible and only reserved to a few guys in a lab, seeing people’s faces change the first time they get to Antarctica and they see the mountains, glaciers, and icebergs while listening to penguins and ice cracking in the background… I don’t think there’s any other industry that could put together all the things that I love and let me call it a job.
Working in Antarctica, teaching people about its global importance and the need to protect and preserve it, has taught me how small we are as individuals to this planet and still, how much power we have as a whole to produce changes. We have the power to choose what we want to change and how. It is on us to take action, even if it is small steps in our daily lives. My work in Antarctica has put me in touch with amazing people who have shown me that it is never too late to start doing something, to be an ambassador for change.
Graduate student (PhD)
Hi! I’m Allison Cusick ‘Woman Scientist’ online, a graduate student (PhD) studying polar biological oceanography in the Vernet Lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California. Since 2017, I have been traveling annually to the Antarctic Peninsula through my graduate work running the Fjord Phyto citizen science project, collecting samples, and giving lectures to guests on-board various expedition ships. FjordPhyto connects Antarctic visitors with scientists in the Vernet Lab to help monitor changes in the microscopic life that thrive within coastal areas throughout November to March. Together we are learning how melting glaciers impact biodiversity and ecology at the base of the food web, while also increasing visitor engagement and understanding of science.
Born and raised in Seattle, Washington I received my BS in Biology from the University of Washington in 2006, and my Masters in Marine Biodiversity & Conservation (at Scripps) in 2017. I spent the ten years in between working in various scientific fields before deciding to pursue a career as a polar oceanographer. My first expedition to Antarctica was in 2013, where I boarded the US Nathaniel B Palmer as a research technician for 53-day expedition in the Ross Sea and that’s when the polar bug bit me! My scientific expertise and love of travel have also allowed me to research exotic ecosystems in the Amazon jungle, the plains of Africa, and remote mountains in Mexico. When not doing science, you can find me traveling, scuba diving, ultra-running, cycling, camping – or just drinking a good cup of coffee!
Glacial geologist & Research Associate
Hello! My name is Evelyn Dowdeswell and I am a glacial geologist working as a Research Associate at the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University. Carrying out research in the polar regions is an incredible privilege and I have been lucky enough to work in both the Arctic and Antarctic. Most recently, I have been involved in a number of projects in Antarctica, including using seafloor echo-sounding with multiple beams in the Weddell Sea to view and interpret subglacial landforms on the seafloor, and taking sediment cores in order to understand the timing of deglaciation and ice shelf development, both of which required an extended stay on an icebreaker vessel.
I began my studies with a degree in Geological Sciences from Humboldt State University in northern California working on Franciscan melange deposits, but I would say that my career as a glacial geologist was seeded much earlier. As a child growing up in California, camping in the glaciated Yosemite Valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of central California inspired my desire to work with nature in remote and somewhat wild areas. I was given my first opportunity to work in the Canadian Arctic while at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado.
During my career, I have edited a number of books, most recently the Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms (Geological Society of London Memoir 46) and co-authored two non-fiction children’s books on explorers Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton. It’s really important for youngsters to learn about the history of Antarctic exploration as well as being given the opportunity to experience nature first-hand. From this type of exposure, children develop not only a love for our planet but also a willingness to act as ambassadors for its continued protection.
Expedition Teams Training Manager
Hello! My name is Jim Mayer. I have been travelling in the Antarctic (and the Arctic, for that matter) for more than 20 years, and am currently the expedition teams training manager for an IAATO member operator.
My first visit to Antarctica in 2000 was to work for the British Antarctic Survey, the United Kingdom’s national Antarctic operation, and I have been fortunate enough since to lead visitors to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, the South Sandwich Islands, to Scott and Shackleton’s huts in the Ross Sea and of course, to the Antarctic Peninsula.
My area of special interest is polar history. And my writings on the history of polar exploration include blogs, book: Shackleton, A Life in Poetry, articles for journals such as the Polar Record and a BBC Radio 4 documentary-style podcast.
It’s a great pleasure to teach Antarctic visitors about the history of Antarctica and the wildlife that calls this unique place home. They are normally struck but reassured by the myriad guidelines we follow to ensure our visit is safe and environmentally responsible, including biosecurity measures we adopt to prevent the introduction of non-native species – yes, we do vacuum your clothes! You see a transformation during the expedition of guests becoming champions for Antarctica and its ongoing preservation. They take that feeling home with them.
Pam le Noury
Head of Expedition Field Operations
Hi, my name is Pam le Noury and I’m an Antarctic Ambassador. As a kid I volunteered to work with unwell penguins at our local vet, perhaps that was the hook. As an adult, I’ve worked in and on the ocean in a career now spanning 20 years – a gap year that expanded. I started working in the Antarctic in 2011. I couldn’t believe my fortune to be there and I’ve returned most seasons since. I’ve also worked in just about every remote wilderness area on our planet from pole to pole. People often ask me if I were to just pick one wilderness area which would it be, and while I have a great passion for Madagascar, it’s still the Antarctic that tops my list. The great white wilderness is spellbinding unlike anywhere else.
I have been a marine scientist, dive instructor, skipper, guide, and expedition leader. I co-published three smartphone apps including the Antarctic Wildlife Guide, and I enjoy teaching people about the oceans and conservation. I am now ‘Head of Expedition Field Operations’ for an IAATO member operator, and my career is turning its focus on sustainability.
To be an ambassador for the wilderness requires no qualification nor effort. If you have been in any real wilderness then you have already been enchanted. Once enchanted you will strive to protect and defend this place and so you too are an ambassador.
Antarctica Tour Operators Introduce New Measures to Manage for Tourism Growth