During my PhD at NTNU, I have the opportunity to take courses from other universities to expand my knowledge and meet PhD students from other universities all around the globe. This means I can combine two of my passions: traveling and learning!
A ‘labrat’ by nature, I decided to broaden my horizon by taking a more practical oriented course. I therefore applied to UNIS, the University Centre in Svalbard, to participate in the course Arctic Microbiology. In the middle of June, I traveled to Svalbard’s main settlement, Longyearbyen. I was excited and a little nervous: how would it be to see the sun 24 hours a day? What would the course be like? And what about the other students?
Hard work with awesome people
My worries turned out to be unfounded, as the course greatly expanded my knowledge about the ecology in the Arctic. The fieldwork was hard and often dirty, but always exciting. Our team of teachers was enthusiastic and eager to teach us as much as possible in the five weeks of the course. However, my fellow students were what made this experience truly unforgettable. Pure awesomeness! Everybody was enthusiastic about science and his or her research. We spent hours discussing our results, our work as PhDs at our home universities, and we shared our ideas about research over a bottle of wine until deep in the sunny nights. It was a tough course with a lot of learning, working, getting dirty and experimenting- yet the instructive team of teachers and the company of my fellow students made it worth every drop of sweat!
Crawling with life
One reason ecologists love Svalbard is its unique nature with a huge variation of habitats close to each other. During our fieldwork, we were lucky to enjoy the sight of various sorts of whales, foxes, reindeers and many, many birds! The landscape is truly stunning. At first glance, it may seem like an arctic desert, but Svalbard teaches you to pay attention to details. When we did, suddenly we noticed flowers growing everywhere and found the island crawling with (microbial) life.
Svalbard gave me a wide variety of intense experiences, new friends and a lot of inspiration. Being back in Trondheim, it is now time again to focus on my own research about the iron uptake in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus PCC7002. My mind still wanders to Svalbard sometimes… we are already planning a reunion with our student group!
If you are interested in what we did, you can watch the official video on YouTube
Cover photo: Marianne Risager Kjøller