The snow has melted, the grass has turned green, the flowers are blooming, and four new scientists have started their careers at CAGE UiT – all sure signs that springtime is here at the Arctic University of Norway!
Frances Cooke (PhD – UK)
Frances Cooke was the first to arrive to Tromsø on April 23rd, 2019. Originally hailing from the UK, Frances has made travel an integral part of her life in terms of both business and pleasure. Before coming to Tromsø, she lived and studied in a variety of places including Wales, Scotland, and three different parts of Australia, traveled to many remote locations such as Indonesia, Jamaica, and the Heard and McDonald islands in the sub-Antarctic, and participated in no less than 25 sea voyages on nine different ships. If you add in a Master’s Degree in Applied Geoscience, a second Master in Petroleum Geoscience, and 3.5 years work experience as a marine geophysicist, then Frances has been one busy lady.
The Seamstress Project (part of Work Package 1 and lead by Andreia Plaza-Faverola) will be Frances’ focus while she is at CAGE. The main goal of this project is to investigate the effects of stress placed on underwater seams in the marine areas west of Svalbard, operating under the assumption that regional processes such as plate tectonics contribute to the cracking of the sea floor and the release of deeply held methane gas reserves into the ocean. There are a number of techniques for examining this hypothesis further, including the use of high-tech scientific instruments such as the P-cable to collect seismic data. It will be Frances’ job to process and interpret this data with a primary focus on stress of the historic past.
Algorithms, calculations, and long strings of numbers may come to mind when one envisions data analysis. But what drew Frances to this particular field was exactly the opposite: it was the inherent beauty in the visual interpretation of such data; the flowing waves, the surprising shapes, the contrasting colors and the stories they tell. Frances feels that she has always had an innate artistic vision that guides her in life and in her career. This vision becomes especially tangible through her interest in video production/editing and photography. The idea of bridging the gap between art and science is one that deeply appeals to Frances, and may provide her with a unique outlook when it comes to data analysis. Who can predict what the eye of a scientist/artist might identify?
An example of seismic data made visual, from Vestnesa Ridge
Przemek Domel (PhD – Poland)
Przemek Domel of Poland is also working for the Seamstress Project, although while Frances is concerned with stresses of the past, he will be ‘listening’ for methane activity and earthquakes on the seafloor through the use of seismological instruments that will provide insight into stresses of the present. His views of the field could not be more different from those of his colleague. When he was evaluating his interests as a bachelor student and envisioning a future career, he knew that he would thrive in a discipline that relied heavily on numbers. However, the idea of sitting behind a desk all day was not his idea of a good time. This provided quite a dilemma: how could he use his natural talents while working in a field with hands-on tasks and visible, practical applications? That is when he decided to get his hands dirty and dive into the geosciences.
As the second employee starting at CAGE this spring, Przemek arrived on May 2nd at the tail end of the SAS strike – maybe not the warmest welcome to Norway. Regardless, having spent a semester abroad in Trondheim during his Master’s studies, he already knew that Norway was a place that he would enjoy. The high quality of life, pure natural resources, and abundance of outdoor activities (excluding skiing – ask him about the pillows!) mesh well for him with the reserved nature of Norwegians; a nature very complimentary to his own, he feels. The only thing that provides some pause is the constant light of the midnight sun – still, a small price to pay for three years of bliss doing what one loves in a place one appreciates.
Claudio Argentino (Postdoc – Italy)
Our third new employee is also part of Work Package 1, but rather than being associated with the Seasmstress project, postdoctoral fellow Claudio Argentino is under the supervision of Giuliana Panieri and Stefan Bünz for a project connected to Aker BP. His responsibilities have little to do with seismology, holding an entirely different twofold focus. This includes:
(1) Analysing the geochemistry of pore fluids and sediments affected by the methane seeps, including characterization and quantification of the hydrocarbon fraction
(2) Investigating the location and composition of seabed habitats based on video taken of the seafloor
Claudio arrived to Tromsø from his homeland of Italy on May 26th with his Chinese wife Shuning in tow, but like Przemek, this was not his first experience with Norway. He visited Tromsø in June of 2017 as a PhD candidate participating in the AMGG Bubbles International Training School sponsored by CAGE, an experience that drew an overwhelmingly positive response from Claudio. As he spoke about his first impressions of the wilderness and uncontaminated nature of Tromsø, his eyes became faraway and dreamy. It is clear that he is still in disbelief that he has been lucky enough to get this opportunity and live in this beautiful place.
Students of the Bubbles School 2017.
Participating in Bubbles was also lucky for Claudio in other ways. It was there that he learned about CAGE and met a number of the scientists contributing to CAGE research. In fact, UiT became his top choice for further education after this memorable trip. This bit of networking has proven invaluable, and goes to show what a powerful impact it can have on a young, emerging scientist’s career path.
Griselda Anglada-Ortiz (PhD – Spain)
The final new employee joining the ranks of CAGE this spring is Griselda Anglada-Ortiz, coming from the sprawling metropolis of Barcelona, Spain. Like Frances, she also has two Master’s degrees – one in Oceanography and Marine Environmental Management and the other in Education of Natural Sciences, proving that our new colleagues are very well educated! For the past three years, she served as a research assistant at the Autonomous University of Barcelona studying the abundance of planktic calcifying organisms in the North Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. This, alongside her previous degrees, has gone a long way in preparing her for her new tasks at CAGE.
Griselda is working with the multi-disciplinary Nansen Legacy Project, which aims to predict the future status of the rapidly changing Barents Sea in an effort to improve sustainable resource management. She will be working under the supervision of Kasia Zamelczyk and Tine L. Rasmussen as part of Work Package 6. Griselda’s specific task will be to measure ocean acidification (both past and present) and hypothesize on how it has affected foraminifera and pteropods, two species of micro-zooplankton that preserve their history in the chemical makeup of their shells.
Although she had never stepped foot in Norway before May 2nd, Griselda had heard the stories of academic life in Norway, and they held an almost fairytale-like quality. Norway was, as far as she was concerned, ‘university heaven.’ Not only was the quality of education high in the north, but the opportunities were plentiful. In other countries, many PhD positions go unpaid, and students are forced live off air, sunshine, and the love of science. From Griselda’s perspective, in Norway the funding is plentiful, the equipment is new, and atmosphere is positive.
Welcome to all!
Clearly our four new friends at CAGE have big expectations of UiT, of Norway, and most of all – of themselves. We wish them luck in the years to come and look forward to many work-related collaborations, social events, and successes. Check the website again in August for information on an ADDITIONAL two new employees joining us this summer!
Text: Jessica Green