Exploring Extreme Places

Studying climate change in the Arctic and the Antarctic became my new passion, both because I want to see these wild and unusual places for myself, and because I want to help understand and protect them. I’ve spent the last eight years traveling to both poles to do scientific research.

Last fall, I went on my biggest polar adventure yet. I joined the MOSAiC Expedition! With scientists from 70+ countries, it is the largest Arctic expedition in history. The goal was to freeze a research ship in the sea ice on purpose for a whole year. While the ship drifts with the sea ice, scientists can study how climate impacts many aspects of the Arctic ecosystem–from the sea ice, to the ocean, to the atmosphere, and the creatures, big and small, that live there.

I joined the expedition for the first leg of the journey. For two months, I lived and worked aboard a Russian icebreaker called the Akademik Fedorov, which can actually break through thick multi-year sea ice. We traveled northward to 200 miles shy of the North Pole and set up scientific equipment on sea ice floes near the R/V Polarstern, the ship that will remain in the ice for up to a year.

When I came back from MOSAiC, I had a few months with my family, and then I went off on another, much different adventure! Remember when I said I wanted to be an astronaut? That dream never went away, and I was ecstatic to find a way to help real astronauts without ever leaving the safety of Earth. 

I traveled to the Johnson Space Center in Texas to participate in a Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) mission.