Fulbright students join Nansen Legacy cruise

Our names are Megan Lenss and Evan Patrohay, and we are joining the most recent Nansen Legacy cruise as US Fulbright Scholars. Fulbright, a program through the United States State Department, has granted us funding to complete yearlong research projects in Norway.

Megan, from Iowa City, Iowa, studies biological oceanography at the Norwegian Polar Institute and the University of Tromsø. Her project will address the dynamics of phytoplankton blooms in the Southern Ocean. Evan, from Charleston, South Carolina, studies at the University of Tromsø. His project uses a trait-based approach to understand sea ice meiofauna, small animals inhabiting the bottom of the sea ice, in the Arctic.

Megan Lenss (UiT). Photo: Pernille Amdahl (MET).

I am honored to be on this Nansen Legacy cruise. This cruise is my first professional expedition, and I am thrilled to be here. Although my Fulbright project is based in the Southern Ocean, my advisors are involved in dual pole research. 

The breadth of their expertise allows me to be involved in related projects at both ends of the globe. Norway has a long legacy in dual pole research, and I feel humbled to continue that work. Norway’s investment in science was deeply motivating to me when choosing to come here with Fulbright.

The network of scientists that I have met during my time here are incredibly friendly and eager to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation of scientists. It is exciting to be a young polar scientist at a time when the poles are facing such drastic change. I am motivated to gain a deeper understanding of the polar ecosystems so that we may develop effective ways to conserve and protect these precious places. 

I hope to continue this work into a master’s degree at UiT in the fall. 

Megan on board Research Vessel Kronprins Haakon. Photo: Pernille Amdahl (MET)

Why did I choose to study in Norway? I really wanted to experience the Arctic firsthand. I live in a subtropical climate back home, so voyaging to over 80 degrees latitude with the Nansen Legacy is extremely exotic to me! 

The way the sea ice spreads endlessly in every direction blows the mind. When I return to the US I hope to work as an environmental engineer and policy maker, and I knew learning about the impacts of climate change on Arctic ecology would be a great asset to the work I will do. 

Evan Patrohay (UiT). Photo: Pernille Amdahl (MET). 

I am specifically studying ice meiofauna from a ‘trait-based approach,’ allowing me to learn how the characteristics of the animals change as the climate does. This approach can be used in any ecosystem, meaning what I have learned in the Arctic will be of use no matter where I go! 

My time in Norway has allowed me to meet and learn from people all over Europe. There is a wealth of knowledge to be learned from different backgrounds and I have appreciated this greatly.

Thumbs up! Evan on board RV Kronprins Haakon. Photo: Pernille Amdahl (MET)