What I do
I am a marine biologist. More specifically, I study the biogeography of polar seafloor animals. Biogeography is essentially the study of where things live and why they live there.
How I got my job
I studied for a graduate degree in marine biology at the University of Liverpool. My job has changed a lot in the 17 years I have worked for British Antarctic Survey, and I even completed my PhD [an advanced degree] while working here.
What I love about my job
I really love the fieldwork, especially when we get to go to unexplored places and discover new species at the bottom of the sea. I have been to Antarctica five times and to the Arctic twice, and they are amazing places to work (as long as you wear the right clothes to keep you warm).
What’s difficult about my job
Being away from family and friends for months at a time is probably the hardest part of the job.
What skills I need
In my job the skills I need are scientific, so I work with computers and in the lab when I’m in the UK. When I’m on the ship I need to be able to deploy cameras and fishing nets into the sea and identify the animals when they are on the screen or in the lab. Lots of other people who live and work in Antarctica have very different skills, including engineers, chefs, electricians, weather forecasters and many other jobs!
Where should young people start if they want to do the job, too?
They need to study science. Most people in my position have done a degree and a PhD in marine biology or a similar subject. You also need to be passionate enough to be away working on a ship for months at a time.
How my job could change in the future
My role will probably evolve to include leading more expeditions and supervising more students, but hopefully I will still be doing the parts of the job I love.