Over the course of the week of the long study tour, I had the opportunity to sit down with Astrid and Susanne to get to know these fantastic women better. Astrid is on the right, and Susanne in the middle.
Q: What’s your title at DIS, and what previous work experience would you like to tell me about?
Susanne: I’m a professor of environmental science, but in Denmark we are known as faculty, not professors. I worked the past 10 or so years for the Research Center for Ice & Climate, which involved a lot of sampling ice cores and modelling ice flows. I have a PhD in geophysics, so I’m very interested in every aspect of glaciology.
Astrid: I’m the Assistant Program Director of Environmental Science and Sustainability. Currently, I’m working on developing a Marine Mammal Biology core course for DIS, focusing on polar biology. Arctic ecology is another course I’m constructing, which will be available in the Summer of 2017. Most recently, I’ve been researching how ice cores and ancient DNA can reconstruct past climates and ecosystems, specifically in Greenland [where shes’s visited 5 times!] and Iceland.
Q: How many times have you visited Iceland, and what’s your favorite part of our trip?
Susanne: I visit several times a year for the past ten years. [Background: Susanne’s husband is Icelandic, and he gave a guest lecture to our class before we departed!] My favorite part of this trip in good weather is the Eastern glacier that we visit, and in bad weather the higher glacier we trek to.
Astrid: I’ve traveled to Iceland five times, and my favorite part of our trip is the whale-watching, even though I was really nauseous on the boat. I also find the Glacier Lagoon beautiful and fascinating.
Q: How did you become interested in teaching? What attracted you to DIS?
Susanne: I worked as an ice skating instructor when I was a teenager, which was my first English-speaking job. When I was working towards my PhD, I taught classes at the undergraduate level, and really enjoyed it. My colleagues at the Research Center for Ice & Climate introduced me to DIS, and it was a great fit!
Astrid: When I was earning my PhD, I taught at Copenhagen University as a TA, and I loved being able to share my own fascination with students. Susanne brought me to DIS! We met in the Department of Glaciology, and our time working on our PhDs and post-doc degrees overlapped.
Q: What do you find most interesting about your field of expertise?
Susanne: Sea level change–how glaciers react to a warmer climate. There’s been a lot of progress in our scientific understanding of glaciology in the past 10 years, but there’s still so much to learn. Additionally, the IPCC reports brought a lot of attention to the field, and the science, like the study of Greenland’s ice sheet in the past 15,000 years, have become increasingly important to political decisions, which is really cool.
Astrid: I’m especially interested in conservation and ecology, with a focus on how science influences tourism, and how to foster a healthy and sustainable connection between the two. Also, biology as a field has a way of reminding me that we humans are small, nature is big, and there’s always more to learn.
Q: Who should enroll in the Environmental Science of the Arctic Program?
Susanne: Anyone interested in biology, environmental science, and the scientific background of climate change. Also, people who can withstand the elements!
Astrid: Students who are curious–curious about climate and the environment, as well as the developing relationships between the two.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
Susanne: I like ice in any form–I like to hike on it, look at it, study it–but I hate it in my drinks!
Astrid: I love to dance!
Thanks for reading! If you’d like to hear more from Susanne, this is a link to a DIS interview with her.