My curiosity towards global environmental issues has motivated me to pursue a master's degree in Environmental Sciences. However, my journey in the field of polar research began in 2008 when I got an opportunity to participate in the Indian Antarctic Expedition. This was the first time when I got a chance to be in Antarctica and to feel personally how pristine and divine the Polar Regions are. The immaculate environment has given a gleam to my dream – ‘work in Polar Regions.’
In 2009, I started working as a junior research fellow at National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) to study trace metals in Antarctic water bodies and the Southern Ocean. Subsequently, in 2011, I was promoted as a senior research fellow and started working on a project -Assessment of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals in the Kongsfjorden, Ny-Ålesund. I participated in 4 Indian Arctic Expeditions to collect sediment samples from Kongsfjorden. The outcome of this study constitutes my doctoral dissertation, which I defended in February 2019. My doctoral studies not only bring out the spatial and temporal variations in the distribution of POPs and heavy metals in the Kongsfjorden system but also indicate the effect of local anthropogenic activities on their concentration.
After completing my doctoral degree, I traveled around 7,530 from a tropical country to Svalbard- a land of midnight sun. In 2020 I joined Norwegian Polar Institute (Longyearbyen), as a postdoctoral fellow where I developed a State of Environmental Science in Svalbard (SESS) chapter on the status of microplastics in the European Arctic. In this chapter, we have learned microplastics can enter Svalbard from small to long-distance and local to long-range sources. Though microplastics have been detected in almost all domains in Svalbard there are many knowledge gaps in order to understand the complete risks of microplastics for living beings and the environment. For example, the degradation and ultimate fate of microplastics in the extreme climate conditions of the Arctic. I am looking forward to closing such knowledge gaps with collaborations and ideas from IASC working group scientists.
Because of the travel restrictions caused by COVID-19 I could not meet physically with other fellows and members from IASC working groups. But luckily things are getting better, and I believe we would not be bound by our computer screen during the upcoming Arctic Science Summit Week-2022. Fingers crossed!
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Neelu Singh
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. The further involvement is individually decided by the WG Steering Group and the Fellow.
From 2020, following the recommendations of the IASC Action Group on Indigenous Involvement (AGII), IASC welcomed also two indigenous Fellows (Inaugural Fellows announced on 27 April 2020) (Inaugural Fellows announced on 27 April 2020)). IASC has had Indigenous Fellows before, but this new recommendation (and budget line!) means that there will be at least one every year, as an additional sixth Fellow appointed each year. They will be able to choose whichever IASC Working Group is most of interest and relevance to them.
The IASC Fellowship Program opens for new candidates every year around late September and is due mid-November. The call and the selection is held in collaboration with APECS.