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The IAATO Antarctic Fellowship


IAATO, the Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP),
The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) work together to support talented early-career researchers, scientists, engineers, environmental managers, and other professionals.

The purpose of the annual awards is to strengthen international capacity and cooperation in fields such as climate, biodiversity, conservation, humanities and astrophysics research by providing annual funding opportunities.


Find everything you need to know about our 2024 Antarctic Fellowship below.

Update: Antarctic Fellowship deadline is extended until June 15th, 2024


Meet Our Antarctic Fellows

Leena Riekkola

2023 Fellow

Leena Riekkola is a spatial ecologist and conservation biologist who enjoys making maps and discovering patterns. Her research focuses on using multidisciplinary approaches and spatial modelling to understand the behaviour and habitat use of marine mammals. Through her work Leena provides critical information to conservation and government agencies, allowing them to make well-informed decisions around reducing human impacts on animal populations.

Leena is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Auckland | Waipapa Taumata Rau (Aotearoa | New Zealand), where her research focuses on a circumpolar analysis of the movements and habitat use patterns of multiple southern right whale (SRW) populations. The aim of her project is to compare current and projected SRW feeding habitats across the Southern Ocean to investigate if key feeding areas will change in the future, and how these changes compare between different populations. This work is part of an international collaboration under the auspices of the International Whaling Commission – Southern Ocean Research Partnership and the Southern Right Whale Consortium, and builds on a fellowship funded by the NZ Royal Society (Te Apārangi).

Like the whales that she studies, Leena is a long-distant migrant herself. She grew up in Finland but completed her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. After completing her PhD Leena joined NOAA in the U.S. as a postdoctoral research associate, investigating ways to reduce whale entanglements in fishing gear. During her career Leena has conducted research across the southern hemisphere, from New Caledonia to Antarctica.

Miguel Ángel Bascur

2023 Fellow

Miguel Ángel Bascur is currently pursuing a PhD in Marine Sciences at the University of Barcelona, Spain. Under the guidance of Drs. Conxita Avila (Universitat de Barcelona), Stuart Jenkins (Bangor University), and David Barnes (British Antarctic Survey), he is investigating whether the documented melting and retreat of Antarctic glaciers, attributed to climate change in the Western Antarctic Peninsula, impact different ecological aspects of soft-bottom macrozoobenthic assemblages. Some of these aspects include structure and composition, trophic ecology, and blue carbon dynamics.

Miguel Ángel is from Hualpen, a small community in the city of Concepción, Chile. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Marine Biology (2015) and a Master’s degree in Marine Ecology (2018) at the Universidad Catolica de la Santisima Concepcion (UCSC). During this academic journey, his primary focus was on understanding how environmental variability influences biochemical and reproductive adaptations in different species of marine invertebrates.

He has had the privilege of participating in two Antarctic expeditions so far. His first campaign (2018) was a part of the international collaborative project ICEBERGs between Chile and the United Kingdom, during which he collected samples for his master’s thesis. Subsequently, his second Antarctic expedition (2023) was conducted as part of the CHALLENGE project led by the University of Barcelona, which provided additional samples to complement his doctoral research.

Miguel was one of two recipients of IAATO Antarctic Fellowship, awarded on November 9, 2023. Miguel will work with British Antarctic Survey to quantify the blue carbon (ocean-based organic carbon) sequestration in benthic invertebrates along Antarctic fjords with glacial retreating, ultimately seeking to identify how blue carbon can act as a natural regulatory factor against climate change.

Eduardo Pizarro González

2022 Fellow

Eduardo Pizarro from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, is researching the patterns of distribution, abundance, and population trends of six Antarctic and Subantarctic penguin species affected by climate change, through the implementation of different approaches to Ecological Niche Modelling. His research will help to develop conservation strategies for these species and to further explore modelling approaches to account for global change processes in wildlife conservation.

Eduardo completed his undergraduate degree in Biology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Chile to pursue his interests in wildlife research. Passionate about the use of technological tools for the study of biodiversity, he began his research career at the Molecular Biodiversity Laboratory of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in Natural Resources, specializing his career in Molecular Ecology and Ecological Niche Modelling of Chilean and Antarctic wildlife.

During his career he has investigated the evolution of foxes from the southern cone of South America and the evolution of penguins and flying seabirds from Antarctica. He participated in the Antarctic Scientific Expedition ECA58 at the beginning of the year 2022, organized by the Chilean Antarctic Institute. In this season he will participate in the Antarctic Scientific Expedition ECA59.

Antonio Polo Sánchez

2022 Fellow

Antonio grew up in Salamanca, Spain. After finishing high-school he studied a bachelor’s degree in Geology at the University of Salamanca. During his degree, he developed an interest in volcanoes and because of that, he contacted asking for supervision of his degree thesis to his future PhD director. His thesis was Antonio’s first contact with Antarctic research since it was focused on the petrography (what different rocks constituted by, in which proportion and how the components are distributed) study of Deception Island (Antarctica) and Los Frailes (Spain) volcanoes.

Deciding to continue his studies in volcanology, Antonio moved to France to undertake a two-year master’s degree in volcanology at Clermont-Auvergne University. His master’s research was focused on Santorini in Greece, in which he characterised how much time the magma stays beneath the surface before erupting (residence timescales through diffusion chronometry) in one of its historical eruptions.

Once finished, Antonio moved to Spain under a one-year scholarship at Geosciences Barcelona – CSIC, and came back to Antarctic research working on the characterisation of volcanic tephra layers founded in marine sediment cores drilled along Bransfield Strait, Antarctica.

He is currently working towards his PhD to understand how the different volcanoes located along Bransfield Strait (Deception Island, Three Sisters, Orca) may erupt in the future.

Apart from his scientific background, Antonio speaks French and English. He loves hiking and sightseeing.

Ross Nichols

2021 Fellow

Ross Nichols from the University of California, Santa Cruz is furthering research that will help IAATO operators minimise the risk of whale ship-strikes around the Antarctic Peninsula.

Ross grew up in Aromas, California, a small town located inland of the Monterey Bay. Originally interested in working with animals in natural environments, Ross gravitated to marine science during high school, inspired by a course in marine biology. He pursued this interest with an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology followed by an M.S. degree in Ocean Sciences from UC, Santa Cruz. Ross was also part of a cognition and bioacoustics laboratory investigating the effects of high impulse noise on Artic seal species. He has pursued many opportunities working in remote field sites in Hawaii, California, Massachusetts and the Antarctic, performing scientific monitoring of seabird, pinniped and cetacean species.

Most recently, Ross has been part of the Bio-Telemetry and Behavioural Ecology Laboratory advised by Dr. Ari Friedlaender at the University of California, Santa Cruz’s department of Ocean Sciences. Here, Ross has focused on investigating seasonal effects of Antarctic ecosystems and their interaction with the phenology and foraging ecology of humpback whales. His current projects involve investigating bubble net feeding behaviour and, separately, questions regarding anthropogenic interactions of Antarctic humpback whales.

Miguel González Pleiter

2020 Fellow

Miguel from the University of Alcala, Spain is researching  the consequences of microplastic introduction to the Antarctic environment. In particular he will study microplastics in Antarctic freshwater to understand their role in potentially spreading antibiotic resistance genes in pristine ecosystems.

Miguel’s work has real global significance given that the fate and transport of antibiotic resistance genes around the world is poorly known. He will test his hypothesis that microplastics in the environment play a critical role.

The geographic focus of Miguel’s research are two freshwater lakes located in the Northeast of Fildes Peninsula, King George Island, Antarctica.

Martina Mascioni

2019 Fellow

Martina Mascioni is a PhD student of the Facultad de Ciencias Naturales y Museo at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (Argentina) under her advisors’ supervision, Dr. Gastón Almandoz at the Phycology Division and Dr. Maria Vernet at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, USA. In 2019, Martina was awarded with IAATO-COMNAP and SCAR fellowships to travel to California and collaborate with Dr Vernet and Allison Cusick, also at Scripps. Due to the pandemic, her travel is currently on hold until international travel is deemed safe and available.

Martina was born in Ushuaia, Argentina, one of the cities that most tourists visit before or after their trip to Antarctica. She lived there until she was five years old and then she moved with her family to San Luis, a city in the centre of the country. When she was 18, she moved to La Plata city to pursue a scientific career as a biologist. In 2016 she was granted the degree of Bachelor in Biology with honours and the next year started with her PhD thesis focused on the ecology and taxonomy of the phytoplankton of the coastal zones (fjords) of the western Antarctic Peninsula. Martina is passionate about her work with microalgae and although she is finishing her PhD thesis in a couple of years, she hopes to keep working on polar phytoplankton for many more to come.


Daniela Cajiao

2019 Fellow

Daniela is a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid where she is expanding her investigation regarding the social dimensions of Antarctic tourism.

Daniela obtained her Master’s degree in Environmental Management (2010) and a Bachelor in Tourism (2005). She has coordinated and provided technical support to multiple projects on conservation and sustainable tourism planning in various protected areas in South America, particularly in the Galápagos National Park.

Ever since her first Antarctic visit in 2011, Daniela has become passionate about the sustainable future of Antarctica. Her main interests revolve around tourism, adaptive management, and decision-making processes. In 2019, Daniela became the joint-first recipient of the IAATO & COMNAP Fellowship for continuing her research on Antarctic tourism. Daniela is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, Tourism and Protected Areas Specialty (TAPAS) Group. She is also a member of the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research (SCAR), Humanities and Social Sciences Expert Group (SC-HASS).