Home » Featured » Who are we? Gaby (our old team member) and Sunet (one of our new team members): Part 1

Who are we? Gaby (our old team member) and Sunet (one of our new team members): Part 1



This is Week 5 of us publishing weekly biographies on new and veteran team members. So far we have interviewed four ‘veteran’ team members and four ‘newbie’ team members. (For more on these interviews see below.) This week we’ll chat to Gaby and Sunet. Gaby went to the Antarctic twice: during the 2014/15 and 2015/16 Austral summer (or field season).

If you have missed any of our previous posts you can read about them following the links below:

  • During Week 1 we chatted to Dave and Nicola.
  • During Week 2 we chatted to Cam and Jenna.
  • Week 3 was spent getting to know Rosie and Tebogo better.
  • During Week 4 we got to know Liezel and Karin a bit better.

Biography # 5 of the Veteran Participants: Gaby Ayres

Q1: What are you doing now?

I am finishing up with my Masters in the Geography Department of Rhodes University.

Q2: Why did you go to Antarctica?
I became very good friends with Rosie, who then kept speaking about this Antarctica and how amazing it was. Up until this point I was only dealing with Marion Island in my B.Sc. Honours research and then I found myself to be more inclined to go into Antarctic research. The idea of conducting science in a place so isolated and extreme was oddly appealing.  I was terrified to speak to Ian about this. So instead of speaking to him I emailed him, basically begging to  become involved. To which he replied he would do his best to get me on the trip. I then found myself going at the end of 2014. It all happened very quickly and I had never seen myself getting such an opportunity (Ian is the principal investigator of our project.)

Q3: What was your role in the team(s) when you went down?
I was a minion to the senior postgraduates during my first trip. I also did preliminary data collection, as well as got a feel for my study sites. It was great to go down in 2014/2015 because it put my project into perspective. The second time I was one of the senior postgraduates and I unfortunately didn’t have field assistants so I pretty much just got on with it and collected my own data.

Q4: What academic work did you have to do there?
Data collection for my MSc, which, is titled ‘Habitat preference for lichens in western Dronning Maud Land, Antarctica’. I also assisted in retrieving project data.

Q5: How many times have you gone down?
I have been extremely fortunate to visit the continent twice.

Q6: Had you seen snow before you went down to SANAE IV?
I had. When I was very little I was in Scotland for Christmas. My brother and I played in the snow on Christmas Eve and we made a really pathetic snowman that was as big as me.

Q7: What ONE (or two) word(s) would you use to describe the Antarctic?


Q8: What ONE word would you use to describe your trip(s) to the Antarctic?

Q9: What was the best part of your trip(s)?
Testing my  limits, making solid friendships and simply experiencing what many others can’t. The landscapes took my breath away and are imprinted in my memory. What has also stuck with me is that absolute silence when the wind does not blow. 

Q10: Do you have any advice for newbies?
Take an iPod for your Ski-Doo trips. Have your own comfort blanket – ship and base can get chilly. Remember to eat in the field – or you’ll freeze. Crocs! (or fake PnP ones) – they are super practical for base and Troll. Enter your data into a spreadsheet on a daily basis. Take way too many pictures – of everything. Don’t be afraid to have some fun – sliding on your bum down slopes is not only for children! Pinch yourself often and realise where you are. 

Q11:Would you/do you want to go again?

#2016fieldpreparations #Antarctica #landscapeprocessesinantarcticecosystems #LPiAE


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