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Wherever the wind - and climate drivers - carry her!

12 July 2018

Wherever the wind - and climate drivers - carry her!

Florence Isaacs in the French Alps, 2016

Florence Isaacs’ icebergs are all lining up and her only concern is that she’s peaking too early.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be given the opportunity to achieve one of my lifelong dreams!”

The PhD candidate from Victoria University of Wellington has just been chosen for an Antarctica New Zealand Scholarship, which includes field research in Antarctica.

“I had a really amazing Geography department at my high school (Wellington High School) which really gave me the drive to focus on environmental science, and eventually Antarctic science” she says.

Florence studied a Bachelor of Science in Geography at University of Otago, including a year at Durham University in the UK. Her Doctoral research, based at Victoria University of Wellington’s Antarctic Research Centre, is looking at changes in sea ice and outlet glaciers in East Antarctica and how they’re linked to changes in long-term climate patterns.

Florence’s doctoral project uses pre-existing data sets – so she’s mainly sitting at her computer running calculations and models. But part of this scholarship award will involve her travelling to Antarctica to work in the field with NIWA scientist Natalie Robinson to study how sea ice in McMurdo Sound interacts with the upper ocean.

“Being able to experience this unique environment up close and personal will give me a greater understanding of processes that I’m currently only experiencing through data sets.”

She says the scholarship will also give her opportunities to go to Antarctic conferences and science summer schools.

“I hope that this is the beginning of a long relationship with Antarctic research.”

Antarctica New Zealand Acting Chief Scientific Advisor, Dr Fiona Shanhun, says the standard of applicants this year was exceptionally high.

“Florence was a real stand out” says Dr Shanhun. “She has already shown real enthusiasm for a future in Antarctic science, we hope this scholarship helps cement that career pathway.”

Florence’s co-supervisors are Professor Andrew Mackintosh and Professor James Renwick. She is one of three candidates to receive Antarctic Scholarships this year. Sheng Fan, from the University of Otago, also received an Antarctica New Zealand Scholarship, and Michael Bollen, also from Otago, received the NZ Post Antarctic Scholarship.


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