Biology student share experiences from internships in the Arctic
Biology student share experiences from internships in the Arctic

From Australia to Longyearbyen Local Government

Hi! My name is Dom, I am from Australia. I am currently studying a Bachelor of Biology, majoring in Marine Science at the University of Queensland. This will be my last semester of my undergrad degree. I am extremely excited and grateful to be here studying at UNIS. When I left home, I was originally going to study in Bergen. A week before the semester was going to start, I got an email from UNIS informing me a spot had opened up. I jumped on the opportunity and I’m so glad that I did! I was drawn to Svalbard as it could not be more different to life back home. When I left Brisbane, the whole country was in the middle of catastrophic bushfires (they are still out of control, 3 months later). There was a 50˚C difference in temperature, it’s fair to say I was not prepared for extreme Arctic environment. However, over the past month I think I’ve settled in nicely and I’m really enjoying my time here in this gorgeous part of the world.

Dominic Oberle

During this semester I will be studying Artic Environmental Management (AB-203) and an Internship in Arctic Biology (AB-208). I will be doing my internship with lokalstyre, the Longyearbyen Local Council, to help improve reuse and recycling in Longyearbyen to reduce the environmental impact on the surrounding ecosystem. I’m looking forward to working with the council as I will be great to bridge the gap between doing the science and implementing actions to obtain tangible improvements that will affect the local community and environment.

Each year the local population fluctuates greatly due to the constant flow of students and tourists coming and going. With this flow of people comes a lot of waste, most of which could be repurposed and used again but due to the lack of facilities it is often thrown in the garbage and burnt. A couple of reuse and repair facilities currently exist in town, such as; a Facebook buy and sell page, Bruktikken, a small reuse store, and a bicycle and ski repair workshop.  These are great initiatives; however, they could be drastically improved and/or upgraded to cope with the amount waste currently generated. 

I do question how this internship links to biology, as I cannot see the link other than reducing the towns impact on the surrounding environment. I do believe this is an extremely important project and I am looking forward to the next 6 months. I hope that I have or can acquire the skills required to achieve the goal of reducing the towns environmental impact through improving reuse/ recycling and repairs in Longyearbyen.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *