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Testimonials by past students studying polar environments

Fabien Montiel (PhD completed in 2012)

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

I started my doctoral studies at Otago in 2009 with very little knowledge of polar environment science. As an engineer/mathematician, it was difficult to relate my theoretical work with others' in the PERT. Over the years, however, many members of the theme expressed an interest in my work and I had the opportunity to discover a much wider and fascinating research area. The PERT is involved in many national polar-related events and actively encourages its students to attend them. Thanks to the theme's financial help, I was able to attend the SIRG annual meeting in 2010 and 2011, and an international conference in Europe in 2011. Regular social events (cryo-lunch, ski trip, curling, dinners, ...) are also organised by a friendly group of emerging polar scientists. I think that studying polar science at Otago is great opportunity to broaden your area of interest and create a powerful network for a future academic career.

Phil Weir (PhD completed in 2012)

Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Having arrived in New Zealand for the first time in 2008, I greatly appreciated the support and professional network provided by PERT. My understanding of the realities of Antarctic research, across the disciplines, was formed by discussions with a broad range of academics at Otago - this basis of understanding contributed to our research in Applied Mathematics and helped me to appreciate the wider context of my own work. On a practical level, the Theme provided a forum for feedback on presentations, proposals and concerns, as well as a social element, where those personal links were cemented. In particular, I will always be grateful to the members and organisers of PERT for their collegiality, providing experience in workshop organisation, financial conference support and even teaching me to ski!

Shelley MacDonell (PhD completed in 2009)

When I came to Otago as a first year I had in the back of my mind that Otago was strong in Antarctic science (according to the prospectus), and that if I experimented with a few different courses I might just find my way there. With the pull of the ice in mind, I did a BSc (hons.) in Geography (with a few Mathematics papers too), and followed on with a PhD. Over the course of my studies I visited Antarctica six times, and in the process investigated the behaviour and hydrology of Antarctic glaciers. Thanks to PERT I was able to present my work at two international conferences, and to have interesting exchanges with researchers in other University departments. PERT closes the gaps between Antarctic scientists within the University and provides a strong support structure that helps you to connect your research to wider networks.