Carolyn Stwertka
PhD student, Dartmouth

What is the focus of your research?

“My research focuses on ice physics of sea ice and snow. I study how light is reflected off, absorbed into, and transmitted through the different types of snow, ice, and ice algae in polar regions. I study both how this changes on a varying time scale and on a varying spatial scale. This is important because sea ice is decreasing and thinning, and the amount of light available to the upper ocean is changing the whole balance of the system. ”

How did you become interested in this subject?

“Simply put, I love snow. The more, the merrier: especially with a mountain and a pair of skis. I started skiing around age 4 and since then, have made skiing and physics a priority. In high school I was ski racing all over the world and taking as many AP physics and math classes as possible. In college I majored in physics, for my Master’s degree I studied Atmospheric Sciences, and now for my PhD I am combining it all to study ice physics in extreme environments. I am really enjoying approaching my research from a material science engineering perspective (I am a PhD Candidate at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering). I like studying an exotic region that is rapidly changing, and is an integral component in regulating the Earth’s climate system.”

What do you like most about being a scientist?

“I love having an excuse to explore and play in the snow for my job. I love being curious, learning, being around people who love to learn, and never getting bored. I love the power of asking questions and then researching how to answer them. I love doing field work to get a better grasp on physical phenomena that would be difficult to understand from just reading papers.”

About The Author

Jan Arrigo

Jan currently teaches Kindergarten and First grade in Palo Alto, CA. She looks forward to a new challenge in the Fall of both Second and Fourth grades. Her main focus on the Healy will be to bring real world Science to elementary school students through text, pictures, videos and live streaming.

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