Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


On 7 November 2023, the APECS International Directorate hosted the event Polar Paths: Weaving passion with profession at Storgata Camping in downtown Tromsø. The purpose of the event was to bring together the polar early career community and provide inspiration on how passions can be integrated into polar professions. Additionally, the event provided a gathering space for community members of all disciplines coming from any institution or employer. 100 people from around 20 different institutions attended.

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The event featured two guest speakers, both of whom call Tromsø home.

Merrick Johnston - Rå Biopark & Tromsø Ski Guides: Locally Rooted Synergies
Melissa Brandner - The 'secret' to living your dream and film screening of Through Darkness

In addition to the inspiring talks and the short film screening, there was a panel discussion, a Kahoot quiz game and mingling with free pizza.

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You can read more about our guest speakers below:

Merrick Johnston grew up in Alaska and started her guiding career at the age of 14. She still guides today and is co-owner of Tromsø Ski Guides. Her studies led her first towards petroleum engineering but she pivoted and had a varied path to her current role at Rå Biopark. She is an expert skier and alpinist, is an ambassador for the Norwegian outdoor clothing brand Norrøna, and is also a mother. She is frequently adventuring outside with clients, friends or her kids.

Melissa Brander is originally from the UK and now calls Northern Norway home after moving here for her PhD studies in marine biology. Melissa is a highly ranked snowboarder and has competed multiple times in the Freeride World Qualifiers. She is a passionate environmentalist and is an athlete with Protect Our Winters Norway. She is also an award-winning filmmaker and her film Through Darkness explores both literal and figurative darkness.

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The funding for this event was provided by the Research Council of Norway; APECS is grateful for this support. The event was organized to complement the schedule of the Nansen Legacy Symposium which was held the same week in Tromsø.

Contact APECS

APECS International Directorate
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
Huginbakken 14
9019 Tromsø
Email: info(at)

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