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[SCIENTIFIC CHRONICLE] Marine ecology and Antarctic: the motivations of a young German scientist to study in Chile

“I came to Chile for an exchange with the Catholic University of Chile (UC), I wanted to live in a country with research networks in Antarctic science. When I arrived, I sent an email to the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) of Chile and to my Edinburgh professors with contacts here, looking for an opportunity to get involved with the Antarctic scientific community from APECS Chile, they offered me to visit the Molecular Ecology Laboratory of the University of Chile (Uch).

Emily Gschwind with the doctoral researcher of the BASE Millennium Institute, Sebastián . Photo: BASE Millennium I. / N. Politis.

My name is Emily Gschwind, I am from Germany, but I am studying marine biology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and that is where I first learned about APECS. Antarctica always caught my attention, so when I was in my first year of college and I met one of my professors, who researches microflora in Antarctica, I asked him about opportunities for ecology students and he told me about APECS.

In this exchange I learned a lot, it was the first time I was so far from home, from my family and friends. Arriving without knowing anyone and with a low level of spanish was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, but also, thanks to it, I was able to learn and grow. I learned to speak spanish, I met friends who were my second family, I learned to adapt to new places and situations, and I was able to travel and get to know Chile, one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. I was also able to explore new interests, such as rock climbing, salsa dancing, and cooking.

I loved living in Santiago, what I liked the most were the new opportunities that the city offers, from culture and history and social movements, to the mountains and the incredible nature that is around. In Santiago there are always new things to explore. Being a mountaineer, I took advantage of how close the mountain range is to the city, and went hiking almost every weekend. I am from Berlin, a very flat place, so the part of living in Santiago that I liked the most was the opportunity to climb hills so frequently.

Emily Gschwind. Photo: BASE Millennium I. / N. Politis.

This experience has motivated me to link my scientific career with Antarctica more than ever, I have always been interested in Antarctic science, and this experience made my dream of working in it a real possibility for me. I am sure that I want to continue with this type of research (marine ecology) in the future, and especially on the white continent. Thanks to this experience I have seen the importance of Antarctic research, and also the great variety of topics that are studied and everything that this work means.

At first I was a little nervous, because it was my first marine biology internship, and my first experience working in a laboratory, but working with Sebastián Rosenfeld and PhD. Elie Poulin has been a great experience. I am very grateful to them for helping me, teaching me and making me feel welcome in the team. I learned a lot and gained a lot of confidence.

Now I plan my scientific career doing ecological research in Antarctica, working in the field. But in the near future, I’m going to finish my final year of undergraduate first, and then I see myself pursuing a master’s and then a PhD in marine ecology, but I’m not sure yet specifically. I would like to do more internships and further explore my interests in marine ecology before deciding. Hopefully in one of these steps I can return to Chile!

By: Emily Gschwind

Emily Gschwind is an undergraduate student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and carried out taxonomic identification of shallow molluscs from the Weddell Sea, South Georgia Island and the Falkland/Malvinas islands, within the framework of conducting biodiversity inventories promoted by the BASE Millennium Institute supported by the doctoral researcher and specialist in molluscs PhD. (c) Sebastián Rosenfeld and by the director of the Molecular Ecology Laboratory of the University of Chil, also director of the BASE Millennium Institute, PhD. Elie Poulin.

Main photo: BASE Millennium I. / N. Politis

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