Recent Activities - Gateway Antarctica - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Latest News

January 2017

Congratulations to Ekki Scheffler, Masters student, recipient of a UC Masters Scholarship for 2017.

December 2016

Welcome to Katie Collier, a UC Summer Scholarship student, working on a project "all eyes on New Zealand glaciers: new ways to quanitfy environmental change using ground validated satellite measurements", supervised by Dr Wolfgang Rack and Geography Department staff.

Congratulations to Rachel Innes, Master of Antarctic Studies candidate, joint recipient of the NZ Centre for Human-Animal Studies Postgraduate Prize for 2016, for her multispecies anthropological research.

November 2016

Professor Lloyd Peck from the British Antarctic Survey joins us for the summer on an Erskine Fellowship. He will be working with students in our Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies, and gives a public talk on 30 November.

We welcome PhD candidate, Usama Farooq from Pakistan. Usama is studying under the supervision of Dr Wolfgang Rack.

Continent 7: Antarctica is launched by National Geographic on global television. Gateway Antarctica staff and students were filmed during the making of this series documenting the realities of undertaking Antarctic science.

October 2016

We welcome PhD candidate, Arnaud Humbert, who is studying extra-murally under the supervision of Dr Daniela Liggett.

September 2016

Welcome to Professor Lars Lund-Hansen who is visiting us from the Department of Bioscience - Aquatic Biology, Aarhus University, Denmark, to collaborate with Professor Ian Hawes.

August 2016

Congratulations to Natalie Pilcher for receiving a UC Masters Scholarship!

Professor Bryan Storey receives a SCAR Visiting Professor Scheme award, enabling him to visit another SCAR member country and share his experience through training and mentoring. Bryan will visit Iran, and assist them to develop a national research programme in Antarctica.

July 2016

Dr Ingrid Visser, Gateway Antarctica Adjunct and Director of the Orca Research Trust assists with saving an Orca calf separated from its family off the North Island coast. Dr Regina Eisert also goes north to provide advice and assistance. Experts, local iwi, and community join together with the Department of Conservation in an attempt to save the baby.

Dr Kurt Joy and Dr Regina Eisert are interviewed by National Geographic Channel for their upcoming television series documenting science on the ice. The Continent 7: Antarctica series is expected to be out in November.

Gabriela Roldan, PhD candidate, is awarded an APECS Antarctic Travel Award, supported by Antarctic Science Ltd, to present her research at the SCAR Open Science Conference later in August. Well done Gabriela!

Rachel Innes has been awarded the CCC Antarctic Scholarship for 2016 and will soon join us to undertake a Master of Antarctic Studies. Congratulations Rachel!

June 2016

Welcome to Daniella McCahey, an environmental historian from the University of California Irvine, with us as a Fellow of the East Asia and Pacific Institutes Program, operated by the RSNZ and NSF in the US. Daniella will spend two months using local archival resources to assist with her PhD.

Congratulations to Dr Wolfgang Rack for securing Deep South National Science Challenge funding for two years, for his proposal "Versatile 4D drones for observations of deep south key earth system processes", in conjunction with Kelvin Barnsdale of UC, NIWA and Agitech Ltd.

The Christchurch Press features Professor Ian Hawes' research, "Extreme science in Antarctica's unusual lakes".

Radio NZ interviews Professor Ian Hawes about glacier melt drowning an historic research site in the McMurdo Dry Valleys.

May 2016

Several Gateway Antarctica students receive Scholarships: Ekki Scheffler receives the Antarctica NZ Postgraduate Research Scholarship; Natalie Pilcher receives the NZ Post Antarctic Scholarship; Marcus Arnold receives an NZARI Prize; Toni Wi receives the MFAT Ross Dependency Scholarship. Congratulations to all!

Dr Daniela Liggett is part of an international team which has been successful in obtaining funding from the Australian Research Council for a three year project around rebranding of Antarctic gateway cities.

April 2016

Radio NZ interviews Prof Ian Hawes about his proposed expedition in the Antarctic winter to Lake Fryxwell in the Dry Valleys, a world first.

We welcome Maud Billaud, from the Polytech Clermont Ferrand School of Engineering in France, who is with us for an eight week Internship. She is working with Professor Ian Hawes on Shackleton's rotifers (micro invertebrates in Antarctic ponds).

Dr Sebastian Rosier, from the British Antarctic Survey, joins us for two months on a SCAR Fellowship to work on grounding lines with
Dr Wolfgang Rack. Welcome Sebastian.

March 2016

Dr Regina Eisert comments on the "very special, scientifically significant" sightings at Scott Base of the rarely seen Arnoux beaked whales (Berardius Arnuxii).

January 2016

Erskine visitor, Dr Colin Summerhayes, Emeritus Associate with the Scott Polar Research Institute (University of Cambridge, UK) is interviewed by Radio New Zealand, and talks about the geologists' debate on whether to add a new epoch to the geological time scale.

Dr Oliver Marsh is the lead author of a study published in the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Research Letters, which has found a melt rate 25 times higher than expected on the Ross Ice Shelf.

Congratulations to Marcus Arnold, Masters student, for being awarded a University of Canterbury Alumni Scholarship. Well done Marcus!

Welcome to Professor Julian Dowdeswell, Director of the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK, who is joining us as an Erskine Fellow for approximately two months.

Dr Ursula Rack, Adjunct Fellow, is joining us through a NIWA National Science Challenge contract until June 2017. Well done Ursula and welcome to our staff.

Masters student, Marcus Arnold, through the Enderby Trust, joins Heritage Expeditions photographic voyage to the Subantarctic Islands, with celebrated wildlife photographer Tui de Roy and the NZ Geographic Photographer of the Year award winner, spending time at the Snares, Campbell and Auckland Islands.

December 2015

Gateway Antarctica's Director, Dr Bryan Storey, comments in a feature article in The Press, 26 December, on the "Antarctic Endeavour", a proposed joint research, education and visitor attaction facility aimed at creating a focus on Antarctica in Christchurch.

Dr Colin Summerhayes, Emeritus Associate with the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge, UK, joins us for the summer on an Erskine Fellowship, to lecture and participate with our Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies. He is also presenting two public talks in the Antarctic series, on 2 December and 27 January.

November 2015

We welcome Dr Graham Hill as an Adjunct Senior Fellow with Gateway Antarctica. Graham is involved with a Marsden funded project looking at the internal workings of Mt Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica.

September 2015

Congratulations to Hannah Christenson who has been awarded her PhD. Her research was around phosphorus biogeochemistry in Antarctic meltwater ponds.

Discovery of oxygen oases in Lake Fryxell, Taylor Valley, Antarctica by Professor Ian Hawes and team featured in the New Scientist.

This month we welcome Dr Stefanie Linow to Gateway Antarctica, from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar & Marine Research in Germany. Stefanie works in the field of remote sensing of land and sea ice and is here for several weeks to collaborate on the SNOW-on-ICE project, supported by the RSNZ and German Ministry of Education & Research.

August 2015

Radio New Zealand interviewed Dr Regina Eisert on her research on Type C killer whales or "Charlies", in their Nine to Noon programme on 31 August. Listen here.

Dr Bryan Storey and Dr Daniela Liggett have been at the SCAR Executive Committee meeting in Norway this month. Bryan is the Vice President of SCAR, with special responsibility for Finance, and Daniela is the Chief Officer of the Humanities and Social Sciences Expert Group. On the agenda was a new Strategic Plan and the SCAR Open Science Conference in Malaysia, August 2016.

July 2015

Gateway Antarctica is to host a new, ground-breaking portal which will place the latest Antarctic scientific knowledge at the fingertips of Antarctic policy makers, thereby supporting dialogue between the scientific and policy communities. The portal is a shared initiative by Antarctica NZ, Landcare Research and SCAR (Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research), and has been made possible by a Tinker Foundation award of US$190,000. Read more.

Best Visual Science Communication prize at the 2015 Antarctic Science Conference went to Gabriela Roldan, one of our PhD candidates, for her poster on "Antarctica on my mind" - Antarctic identities in the South American gateway cities. Congratulations to Gabriela!

Dr Regina Eisert has been in the media spotlight - Radio NZNZ HeraldStuffNelson Mail, TV3, Global Post - talking about her latest research on the commuting habits of killer whales. A team of NZ and Italian scientists, led by Dr Eisert, has discovered that the Type-C killer whales swim 4900 km from Antarctica to Northland.

June 2015

The University of Canterbury is hosting the 2015 Antarctic Science Conference - Antarctica - A Changing Environment, from 29 June - 2 July, with a great line up of presenters including some of our staff and our postgraduate students. Dr Regina Eisert is a Keynote Speaker, talking about the importance of top predators as sentinels of the Ross Sea ecosystem.

We are pleased to welcome Dr Oliver Marsh, who has returned to Gateway Antarctica as a PostDoctoral Fellow, developing new satellite techniques for improving our understanding of Antarctic grounding zones, which is a Marsden funded project. Oli graduated from here in 2013 and went on to work as a PostDoctoral Reseacher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, investigating changes in ice shelf surface properties and melting at the ice shelf base.

May 2015

Congratulations to Stephen Hicks who successfully defended his PhD, a thesis on the Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Stephen is giving a Public Talk on "behind the scenes" of the expedition, on 27 May.

Gateway Antarctica's Director, Professor Bryan Storey has been appointed Director of the International Antarctic Institute (IAI), a global consortium of 20 universities and agencies throughout the world that provide university-level education and conduct research in Antarctica. The secretariat of the IAI will also be hosted by the University of Canterbury.

Sira Engelbertz successfully defended her PhD in Antarctic Studies - "Values in Antarctica". Her research focussed on human connections to Antarctica, scrutinising the role that humans play in Antarctic policy, in particular the specific values that drive the political discourses on shipborne tourism and the implications of climate change. Congratulations Sira!

April 2015

Dr Daniel Price is interviewed on Radio New Zealand for his upcoming Pole to Paris campaign.

Current Master's Student and former PCAS student, Marcus Arnold, is interviewed as part of the University of Cantrebury's UC Me Campaign.

Dr Regina Eisert is interviewed in the AA Directions Autumn 2015 issue on page 26, as part of the featured topic 'Wild Work; New Zealanders who get a thrill out of adrenaline-fuelled work".

Dr Ursula Rack releases new publication on biographical snapshots of Felix Koenig, via her website.

March 2015

Former UC Antarctic Studies student and COMNAP Research Assistant, Jodi Gustafson awarded a highly prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship! This full scholarship will allow Jodi to complete the MPhil in Conservation Leadership at the University of Cambridge, UK, for one year. Congratualtions Jodi!

Nov 2014

Professor Ian Hawes talks to Seven Sharp about the underwater secrets of Antarctica.

Dr Regina Eisert reports on Antarctic Tooth fish in McMurdo Sound. Update One. Update Two.

Dr Regina Eisert Seals, Tides and an Epic Adventure

PhD Student Gabriela Roldan visits Ushuaia, Agentina as part of her research and is interviewed by local media.
Universidad Nacional de Tierra del Fuego and el diario del findel mundo

July 2014

Professor Ian Hawes is interviewed by Newstalk ZB about how a new sea ice test could help fight climate change.

February 2014

Dr Regina Eisert and her team are in Antarctica firing darts at Killer Whales to research their diet (TVNZ news feature).

Postgraduate Certificate in Antarctic studies students undertake Parkrun in Antarctica (Newcastle Herald article).

January 2014

Congratulations to Colin Hillman who has completed his Masters thesis, Structure of benthic microbial mat assemblages in Lake Fryxell, Antarctica. Colin has been awarded a Masters of Antarctic Studies with Merit.

Congratulations to Hanne Neilsen who completed her Masters of Antarctic Studies in October as she has been awarded a pass with distinction.

December 2013

Dr Wolfgang Rack was interviewed by TVNZ during his field season in Antarctica on the impact of global warming is having on Sea Ice (TNVZ new feature).

October 2013

Congratulations to Oliver Marsh who has successfully defended his PhD thesis. His research was on ice dynamics and mass-balance in the grounding zone of outlet glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains, based on satellite remote sensing and finite element modelling.

October 2013

Congratulations to Kurt Joy who has successfully defended his PhD thesis, after submitting it in July. His thesis title is a quarternary history of ice sheet dynamics in the Transantarctic Mountains, incorporating the timing and magnitude of East and West Antarctic ice sheet changes.

Plus another thesis submission - Hanne Nielsen has completed her Masters thesis, The Wide White Stage, a history of space in theatre studies and historical attitudes towards the Antarctic continent. Well done Hanne!

October 2013

A New Zealand – German partnership to measure sea ice has come to fruition through a successful grant obtained by Dr Wolfgang Rack under the NZ-Germany Science & Technology programme administered by the Royal Society of NZ.   A more reliable method to derive snow properties on top of sea ice is to be established with the aid of new radar imagery from the German TerraSAR-X satellites, which have been launched by the German Aerospace Agency.  A pre‐requirement for the retrieval of ice thickness from satellite data is the knowledge of snow height and density on top of the sea ice, particularly in an area of younger and thinner sea ice such as Antarctica.  Dr Rack will be visiting the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research to collaborate with Dr Wolfgang Dierking on this project.

September 2013

Congratulations to Colin Hillman who completed his Masters thesis at the end of September. His research was on spatial distribution, structure and function of benthic microbial mat assemblages in Lake Fryxell, Antarctica.

August 2013

After submitting his Phd thesis in July, Oliver Marsh (Oli) has joined the staff of Gateway Antarctica, in a research and course co-ordination role.

July 2013

Associate Professor Anne-Marie Brady is going to be writing a new book on Antarctic and Artic polar policies – of China.  She has been granted a prestigious nine month fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC from September and will use this time to examine China’s global behaviour and foreign policy, and the challenges that climate change, the global financial crisis and declining oil production are bringing to existing governance arrangements in the polar regions.  China is fast increasing its involvement in Antarctica and plans to set up a new base in the Ross Dependency. It is strategically important for New Zealand to better understand China’s foreign policy intentions and the implications for our interests.

July 2013

Oliver Marsh has submitted his PhD thesis on ice dynamics and mass-balance in the grounding zone of outlet glaciers in the Transantarctic Mountains, based on satellite remote sensing and finite element modelling.

Kurt Joy also submitted his PhD thesis in July - a quarternary history of ice sheet dynamics in the Transantarctic Mountains, incorporating the timing and magnitude of East and West Antarctic ice sheet changes.

July 2013

Andrew Atkin has impressed his PhD examiners with his thesis on 'Drivers of scientific success; an analysis of terrestrial magnetism on the Discovery Antarctic expedition, 1901-04' and been successful in obtaining the award of PhD. Congratulations Andrew!

June 2013

We have a tweetie-bird in our midst – congratulations to Hanne Nielsen who won the UC Postgraduate “tweet your thesis” contest. Hanne tweeted six messages to relay what her Masters research is about...

  • The Wide White Stage: Close Reading of Representations of Antarctica in the Theatre (1930-2012)
  • Early plays use a bare stage to focus on SACRIFICE in Antarctica as Scott’s men face their destinies: Ice simply a backdrop. 
  • Retellings question heroism: Brenton’s ice rink setting UNDERMINES ideas of sacrifice, turning Scott’s story into a farce 
  • Heroic era stories and Antarctica diverge: stories take place in a rest home or attic and setting is IMAGINED by characters
  • Antarctica becomes starting point for plays: Adebayo VISITS Antarctica in character as part of her performance
  • Once the backdrop for heroic era stories, Antarctic environment now takes centre stage, with narrative in the background. #UCTweCon2013     

June 2013

We are pleased to announce that Dr Regina Eisert has joined our staff in the role of research scientist. Regina is an expert in the physiology and nutrition of Antarctic seals and other predators. We look forward to having her work with us.

Dr Eisert has been successful in receiving one of seven grants from the NZ Antarctic Research Institute (NZARI), announced this month. Her proposal covers "Whales, seals and penguins: defining functional roles and trophic dependencies of key top predators in the Ross Sea". The Principle Investigator and co-PI are Regina Eisert and Matt Pinkerton (NIWA), with Associate Investigators including Travis Horton, Department of Geology, as well as researchers from NIWA, the Cawthron Institute, Landcare Research, University of Auckland, University of Tasmania and Charles Darwin University.  This NZARI proposal is the start of an initiative by the Top Predator Alliance of New Zealand, founded by the proposal investigators in March 2013, with the goal of developing and extending research on Antarctic top predators including penguins, seals, and killer whales. 

June 2013

We welcome Jean-Francois Baure, who is here on a 3 month internship, working with Gateway Antarctica and the Spatial Engineering Research Centre. Jean-Francois is studying towards an industrial engineering Masters, and his speciality is laser instruments installed on satellites.

June 2013

Nick McLay's Masters thesis has passed examination with a very solid result. Nick is the first Masters in GIS from the newly established MGIS program, with a remote sensing topic in Antarctic Glaciology ('Ice velocity and mass balance study of the Skelton Glacier, Antarctica, using remote sensing and GIS techniques').


May 2013

Congratulations to recipients of recent grants:

Transantarctic Association (UK)

Oliver Marsh: £1410 to attend the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco in December.

Transantarctic Association (NZ)

Dr Ursula Rack: $1000 towards the joint SCAR* History Expert and Social Sciences Action Groups Workshop in Cambridge, UK in July

NZ Federation of Graduated Women

Dr Usula Rack: $2000
Hanne Nielsen: $600
both towards travel to the SCAR* History Expert and Social Sciences Action Groups Workshop in Cambridge, UK in July

*Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research

See “Science News Weekly Headlines” 10 May 2013 for “ScienceShot: Big Brains May Help Baby Seals Survive Under Ice” -  referring to an article by Dr Regina Eisert on brain size of newborn and adult Weddell seals in "Marine Mammal Science".  Researchers have found that newborn pups have a brain 70% the size of the adult seal brain.  http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2013/05/scienceshot-big-brains-may-help-.html?ref=em

Two of our students submitted their theses in April:

Andrew Aitken - PhD research on drivers of scientific success; an analysis of terrestrial magnetism on the Discovery Antarctic expedition, 1901-04.

Nick McLay - Masters research on ice velocity and mass balance of the Skelton Glacier, Antarctica, using remote sensing and GIS techniques.

Well done Andrew and Nick!

April 2013

We welcome Dan Wilson, an Honours student, who has taken up residence in Gateway Antarctica.  Dan is investigating people’s environmental values and attitudes related to Antarctica.

April 2013

“Antarctica - Global Science from a Frozen Continent”, edited by David Walton of the British Antarctic Survey and a visiting Erskine Fellow in 2012/13, has just been released. Spanning topics from marine biology to space science, this book is an overview for anyone interested in Antarctica, its science and governance. Various international experts have contributed including Gateway’s Director, Professor Bryan Storey with a chapter

"A keystone in a changing world". Cambridge University Press ISBN 978-1-107-00392-7 Hardback.

April 2013

Every year large numbers of scientists congregate in Vienna to share their research results and views at The General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union, one of the world’s biggest geosciences unions.  Dr Iman Soltanzadeh recently joined 11,000 scientists from 95 countries to contribute findings on Antarctic meteorology and regional climate modelling via both oral and poster presentations.  Iman has consequently been invited to visit Germany’s Philipps-Universität Marburg to build future collaborations between Gateway Antarctica and their Faculty of Geography in numerical modelling and remote sensing areas.

April 2013

Strategic Science in Antarctica” is the theme for the first joint New Zealand / Australian Antarctic conference, to be held in Hobart in June.  We anticipate a number of our staff and students will be presenting at this significant gathering aimed at establishing better collaborative links between the two countries.