Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: University of Leeds
Dates: Aug 2009-Jul 2014
Summary: A close look at the Earth’s polar region reveals that although icy environments are one of the most hostile places on Earth, microbes live and thrive on glaciers and snow. About 10 % of Earth’s land surface is covered by ice and snow, and if we understand how microbes survive in such environments on Earth than we can gain clues as to whether, or if, similar life forms exist at the ice covered polar caps on Mars.
The goal of this award was to develop new ways to look at how life can adapt to extremely cold conditions and how it can survive on snow and ice in the Arctic. In addition, my aim was also to find new ways to share this knowledge with the wider public via various outreach activities.
During the 5th and final year of this award I went for almost 3 months to the Arctic and samples various snow fields and glaciers for their microbiological inventory. I have also been trained in how to understand genetic information that we can extract from microbes from these cold places and learned how to explore how these microbes adapt to the high UV radiation doses in the Arctic.
Together with my collaborators we published an important paper about our findings in an international journal and I have presented our work to many school children through outreach talks, as well as at Cafe Scientifique events but also to our peer researchers in the international community..