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Welcome to Antarctic Ambassadors

Antarctic Ambassadors is a collaboration of people who care passionately about Antarctica & protecting its unique landscape.

Hi, welcome to the IAATO Antarctic Ambassadors page

Antarctic Ambassadors logo

It’s our belief that by leading expeditions to Antarctica with responsible and robust environmental practices at their core, guests, representing more than 100 nationalities on average each season return from the white continent with a greater understanding of its environment, its value to global science and how changes to the region can impact us all. This is why responsible travel can be part of the solution to protecting our special places.

Much of what IAATO does is made possible by the guidance of the Antarctic Treaty System. With every passing year, every annual meeting, we improve. We get better. We strengthen the legacy which we are so proud to say is part of protecting the precious landscape which captivates those who visit, who return calling themselves Antarctic Ambassadors.

Want to see what we’ve been up to? Join the Antarctic Ambassadors conversation on Facebook or Instagram.

Meet an Antarctic Ambassador

Elizabeth Bradfield

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.

Lauren Farmer

Expedition Leader

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!

Daniela Cajiao

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.

Mariela Cornejo

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.

Allison Cusick

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!

Evelyn Dowdeswell

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.

Jim Mayer

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.