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

The end of the internship at Polar Permaculture

Gaining new knowledge

I have really enjoyed my stay in Longyearbyen and working at Polar Permaculture. I have gotten to use some of my biological knowledge, mostly through trying to maintain good growth in the plants we were growing and when doing my small-scale water quality experiment on basil plants. I got to use my skills in plant biology, and I got to use and improve my skills in doing research, finding the best and most reliable sources for information, and also using less time on doing so. I have made a report on optimal growing conditions for the plants that will be grown by the company at a later stage, and that took a lot of time doing research. It really challenged me to be critical of the methods used in different studies, because many studies on the same topic can have very different results, and often the reason could be found in the methods or interpretation of data.

Learning by doing

When doing my water quality experiment, I realized I did not have sufficient knowledge in making test designs (I had never done it before), and that caused some problems. I figured I just had to get started, but after a while I found some weaknesses in my design. Therefore, I look forward to learning more statistics and methods in the coming semesters. I did learn a lot just from this small test setup though, it made me more able to detect weaknesses and to simplify the testing as much as possible. I also had to read up a bit on plant biology during the start of my internship and during the writing of the report on growth conditions, and I have learned a lot of new things, mostly relating to greenhouse and indoor hydroponic systems. Much of it is on lighting, plant nutrition and temperature, as well as the hydroponic systems themselves.

The value of a biologist

The internship period went more or less the way I had hoped, except for having to leave early. I was part of the daily operations, as was the intention, and I got to do other things on the side when I wanted to. The cooperation with Ben and Hege was really good, and I felt like they trusted me, which was important. I felt like I was able to contribute, and that my work as a biologist was meaningful. Having someone in the company with such skills, I think will be important for them in the future. A biologist can contribute through optimizing growth and reducing costs, giving both high quality and high quantity yields with minimum costs, which is key for the company to do well.

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