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

IAATO named its latest Antarctic Fellowship recipient on December 1 – Antarctica Day – 2021. Ross Nichols from the University of California, Santa Cruz will further research that will help IAATO operators minimise the risk of whale ship-strikes around the Antarctic Peninsula.

The 2022 IAATO Antarctic Fellowship is being administered by COMNAP. Find out more, and apply here.

Meet Our Antarctic Fellows


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.


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.