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Next generation

Mentoring program brings emerging researchers to Norwegian Arctic

Student Life

By Kelly Foss

A Memorial University research assistant is one of 31 individuals worldwide who participated in an early career mentoring program in the high North recently.

The Arctic Frontiers Emerging Leaders program is aimed at young scientists and professionals and featured a blend of technical, social and cultural events accompanied by mentors from business, politics and academia.

Group shot
A group shot of the Emerging Leaders participants taken in Henningsvær, Norway.
Photo: Submitted

This year, the program took place in the Norwegian Arctic Jan. 16-22, starting in the city of Bodø, then continuing on the coastal cruise vessel M/S Hurtigruten to Lofoten and ended with the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, “the gateway to the Arctic.”

Next generation

The purpose of the program is to train the next generation of Arctic researchers — to examine topics that are specific to the Arctic, and to engage in discussions on such things as the environment, resource management, security and the development of business and technology in the Arctic.

Justine Ammendolia is a recent alumna of the Department of Ocean Sciences and has been working with Dr. Charles Mather, Department of Geography, for the past year on a multi-year marine debris monitoring study of Placentia Bay. She says she’s humbled to have been chosen for the experience.

Northern Lights outside of Tromsø
Northern Lights outside of Tromsø
Photo: Dr. Pål Brekke

“I was really intrigued by that approach, and the multidisciplinary fields they attracted — artists, researchers, industry stakeholders and environmentalists — so I applied for it,” she said.

“Since Newfoundland and Labrador is in the Northwest Atlantic, we share a lot of similar characteristics with more northern latitudes. So, being able to share the experiences I’ve gained at Memorial University seemed very relevant.”

‘The big picture’

While participating in the program, Ms. Ammendolia was actively engaged in a number of lectures and workshops with the program co-ordinators and her peers.

“Getting to visit another country and listen to their experts, in specialties ranging from the Northern Lights to Arctic policy and management, talk about the global picture of change in northern latitudes was amazing. I really wanted to learn and take as much as I could from it, and to start thinking about where I see myself in the big picture.”

Henningsvær landscape
Photo: Submitted

She’s especially grateful to have received funding to attend the program from the Research Council of Norway and the Royal Norwegian Embassy.

“It’s an expensive program and I’m not a student anymore, so those pots of money are no longer available to me,” said Ms. Ammendolia. “But I was fortunate the Norwegians saw my potential and wanted to foster that,” she said.

“Now I feel the obligation to share the knowledge I have gained, especially to other young scientists interested in this area of research, and to make them aware this opportunity exists.”

Ms. Ammendolia also presented a poster at the Arctic Frontiers Conference based on a study she recently published with her Canadian-based colleagues on global plastic debris in aquatic food webs. She won first place in the Early Career poster session and was awarded future registration for participating in an upcoming Arctic Frontiers conference.

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