Antarctic research benefits from postdoctoral fellowships

Congratulations to Dr Bella Duncan, who is among four Victoria University of Wellington researchers awarded Rutherford Foundation New Zealand Postdoctoral Fellowships. Three of them for research that will be carried out with the ARC.

The two-year fellowships from the Royal Society Te Apārangi are for promising researchers in the early stages of their careers. Ten scholarships were awarded this year.

Bella Duncan has been awarded her fellowship for research into the role that atmospheric warming has played in driving ice sheet retreat and Antarctic environmental change in the past. She will use molecular fossils to reconstruct past Antarctic climate, air temperature, and vegetation.

ARC Director, Professor Andrew Mackintosh says the Centre is delighted to secure three Rutherford postdoctoral fellowships. “This provides further evidence of our standing as a leading global research centre, attracting the brightest young international scholars to Wellington, and also supporting our home grown talent.”

Holly Winton will conduct research using biomarker techniques on Antarctic ice cores to study marine primary production—tiny photosynthetic plants that float in the upper ocean—in the Ross Sea over the past 2000 years. The research aims to answer how primary production changed over this time period and what drove the change.

Bella is currently working at the Antarctic Research Centre, and Holly has been working for the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Oliver Wigmore, from the University of Colorado, Boulder, will also work with the Antarctic Research Centre to map changes to the debris-covered tongue of New Zealand’s biggest glacier—the Tasman—using drones, satellites and field observations. The data will improve understanding of how the glaciers are evolving, and what processes drive debris-covered glacier dynamics.