In 2010, when I was assisting Japanese scientists as an interpreter during their field trip to Central Yakutia, Northeastern Siberia, Russia I witnessed terrible situations when many households' cellars were water-logged. As a result they didn't have enough space for storing their food. This made me think of serious challenges that climate change brings to my fellow Yakutians and encouraged me to start my research on climatic and environmental changes in Yakutia.
The demand to conduct research professionally brought me to enroll in a PhD position at the University of Zurich, Switzerland as a Swiss Scholarship Holder to pursue my PhD. In my research within the University Research Priority Programme on Global Change and Biodiversity I have been dealing with the vulnerability of social-ecological systems to climate change in Arctic Yakutia.
I had conducted interviews on local people's perceptions of climate change in Central Yakutia before, but due to my lack of training I wasn't satisfied with how I carried out that inquiry. In my doctoral research I have been dealing with the vulnerability of social-ecological systems to climate change in Arctic Yakutia.
Arctic social-ecological systems are highly vulnerable to climate change because change is more intense in the Arctic, ecosystems are more susceptible to fluctuations, and Indigenous peoples are among the poorest and marginalized. As a result of climate change, native plant and animal species are forced out by invasive species, reindeer are altering their migratory routes, and numbers of caught fish are declining. This challenges the food security of Indigenous peoples highly dependent on natural resources. Therefore, it is important to understand responses of Arctic social-ecological systems to climate change.
In addition to climate-induced changes, Indigenous peoples of the Arctic are challenged by social-political and economic transformations as well. Soviet regime policies, high rates of suicide, alcoholism, unemployment, remoteness, high transportation costs, new regulations, and other issues compromise the livelihoods of Indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples have been resilient and adaptive to climatic and environmental changes for millennia, however, when it comes to socio-political and economic transformations, they are more vulnerable. Top-down designed and implemented regulations significantly limit adaptive capacity of Indigenous peoples. To maintain sustainability of Indigenous livelihoods, it is crucial to take into account Indigenous knowledge in designing and implementing policies.
The policy/science interface is also crucial to understand, therefore I am planning to conduct research on the political and scientific interests of South Korea in the Arctic at the Korean Polar Research Institute starting in December 2018.
I am happy and grateful to be an IASC Fellow because it gives a wonderful opportunity for an early career researcher to develop as a scientist and as a leader. In addition, it provides me, as an Indigenous individual, a unique possibility to bring up issues from an Indigenous perspective and to serve as a bridge between science and Indigenous peoples, western and Indigenous knowledge.
Once one of my favorite scientists, Noah Chomsky, said that, "the only communities standing between humankind and the realization of environmental catastrophe is the world's Indigenous peoples." I do believe that Indigenous peoples and their knowledge will help scientists to prevent catastrophic events.
IASC Fellowship Program
The IASC Fellowship Program is meant to engage Early Career Scientists (ECS) in the work of the IASC Working Groups (WGs). IASC Fellows are doctoral or postdoctoral researchers who actively participate in selected activities of the IASC WGs. The total duration of the IASC Fellowship Program is 1+2 years. After the first year the Fellows have an opportunity to stay involved up to 2 more years; further involvement is individually decided by the WG Steering Group and the Fellow.
Apply for IASC Fellowship Program
If you are interested in this amazing opportunity then please fill out this application form. You can upload your CV as a PDF file within the form. If you have problems accessing or submitting the form, please contact the APECS Executive Director Gerlis Fugmann at to receive a Word version of the form. The application deadline is Monday 19 November 2018 at 13:00 GMT. Late applications will not be considered. Successful applicants will be notified before the end of the year.