Written by Jose Seco, Sara Strey, Tom Armitage, Jilda Caccavo, Joseph Nolan, Lavenia Ratnarajah

The theme of this International Polar Week is “Polar World” and its purpose is to show the world the planetary importance and relevance of these unique areas and, at the same time, to show to the general community that there are people working with the Polar regions all around the world.

If you’re a person that is interested to work with polar science or if you just want to know more about these fascinating remote areas of our planet, there are plenty of opportunities for you. If you’re already someone that’s working with polar science there is always something more to discover. First, as many of you realize, we have the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). Since you’re here on our website, looking at our blog we’ll assume that you’re somewhat familiar with the role of this exquisite community.

APECS is only the first stepping stone for many with long and fruitful careers in polar research. There are several other organizations like Polar Educators International (PEI), APPLICATE, and so very many others that it isn’t possible to list them all! There are a few larger organizations you might have heard of like the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), the European Polar Board (EPB), and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). Not only are these some of the largest polar science organizations, they also provide opportunities for early career researcher fellowships (IASC, SCAR) and to serve as a Junior Policy Officer (EPB). To accompany our webinar, we interviewed some of these fortunate scientists.

What are some projects you have worked on as part of your fellowship role?

“I am a first year Fellow (2017) so I am just getting going. I have assisted in drafting the minutes from the 2017 MWG business meeting and drafting the MWG 5-year work-plan. As a co-lead I secured funding to run a workshop on "Improving our understanding of extreme events in the Arctic using a cross- disciplinary approach" at the Polar 2018 conference in Davos, Switzerland. The workshop aims to bring together a group of scientists to discuss and report on the impact and our understanding of extreme events in the Arctic system, using a cross-disciplinary approach.”
-Tom Armitage, IASC Fellow

“My SCAR fellowship supported me to travel to Villefranche-sur-Mer, France to study the trophic biology of the Antarctic silverfish with relation to population structure in the Weddell Sea in Antarctica, using the lipid analysis to gauge nutritional condition and prey consumption.”
-Jilda Caccavo, SCAR Fellow

“I have been involved in various projects since joining the EPB, including organising sessions at international conferences, communications, helping with the development of the EPB Strategy 2017-2022, and organisational finances.”
-Joseph Nolan, Junior Policy Officer EPB

“I received the 2016-2017 SCAR Fellowship to investigate how higher trophic levels influence the growth of phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean. Briefly, the Southern Ocean is anaemic - so when you fertilise it with iron, you can expect phytoplankton to grow. But the ecosystem is really complex, and there are other key processes that can also influence how iron stays at the surface. My SCAR Fellowship gave me the opportunity to look at how whales recycle iron through their diet, and how that influences the microbial community (phytoplankton and bacteria)”
-Lavenia Ratnarajah, SCAR Fellow

What benefits do you get from being an IASC or SCAR Fellow?

“The principle benefit is the opportunity to attend two annual Arctic Science Summit Week meetings, at which there is the opportunity to meet and network with a very diverse set of Arctic scientists, from all over the world working across every facet of Arctic science. This experience will be enhanced in 2018, with the co-location of the annual meeting of SCAR, and the opportunity for "bi-polar" collaboration. The opportunity to hear about work across all disciplines in polar sciences, especially outside of your own specialisation, is great, and allows you to fully contextualise your work within the broader picture of polar research.”
-Tom Armitage, 2017 IASC Fellow

“Being awarded a SCAR fellowship allowed me a huge amount of flexibility and independence in my research project. Rather than having to worry about support from my university or host institution, I could take care of all of my own research budget, as well as not worrying about how to pay for living expenses. This allowed me to arrive at the laboratory in Villefranche-sur-Mer less like a student, and more like post-doc or early faculty member who manages their own research project. Of course, I was extensively trained to learn the new techniques necessary to carry out my project, but I did not have to worry about limitations in the extent of the project based on lack of funding from either the host or home institution.“
-Jilda Caccavo, SCAR Fellow

“As a recipient of the SCAR Fellowship, I was able to conduct novel research, and shed some light into how whales can influence the marine ecosystem. Travelling to the Pierre and Marie Curie University in France allowed me to network with other scientist working in complementary fields, thus bridging the knowledge gap.”
-Lavenia Ratnarajah, SCAR Fellow

How can people get involved with IASC, SCAR, or EPB?

“The best way for early career scientists to get involved with IASC is to apply to the IASC fellowship program. You have the opportunity to attend two annual Arctic Science Summit Week meetings attached to one of the IASC Working Groups. You are encouraged to get involved with working group activities as well as to develop and lead your own initiatives through IASC funding procedures.”
-Tom Armitage, 2017 IASC Fellow

“Check out the SCAR website. And/Or sign-up for the monthly SCAR newsletter. The SCAR website has a plethora of resources, including more study area-specific groups and mailing lists which once could become a part of, as well as funding opportunities and relevant course and workshop announcements. And of course, the best way to become involved in SCAR is to attend a SCAR conference!”
-Jilda Caccavo, SCAR Fellow

“Join our webinars, organised jointly with APECS - there are two upcoming: "The Antarctic Treaty and the protection of the environment" by Yves Frenot on 23rd October, and "An introduction to the Arctic Council" by Timo Koivurova on 2nd November. Also keep an eye out for cross-cutting, transdisciplinary EPB sessions at conferences.”
-Joseph Nolan, Junior Policy Officer EPB

“The SCAR Fellowship is an excellent fellowship awarded to early career researchers working in the southern ocean/antarctic. I highly recommend anyone interested to apply for the fellowship as it is a great stepping stone to becoming an independent research scientist.”
-Lavenia Ratnarajah, SCAR Fellow