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Human Engagements with Antarctica

With the current focus on climate change, the Antarctic and Southern Ocean have emerged as regions of intense interest for non-scientists as well as scientists. For more than a decade now the University of Tasmania has been building its capacity in non-science areas of Antarctic and Southern Ocean Studies, including cultural history, textual and artistic representation, tourism, geography and geopolitics, environmental management, policy, governance and law.

Human Engagements with Antarctica is a network of researchers across the University working to understand the social, cultural and political dimension of human interactions with the Antarctic, sub-Antarctic and Southern Ocean in the past, present and future. Strategically located at a "polar gateway", our group aims to strengthen and broaden the University's international reputation for excellence in Antarctic research. By diversifying the University's knowledge base in this area, the group helps to foster the holistic interdisciplinary approach that is increasingly recognised as necessary to deal with the problems currently facing humanity.

Banner Image Credit: Meredith Nash

Our Research Group

Business and Economics - Tourism.

Political Science, IMAS. Marcus Haward is a political scientist specialising in oceans and Antarctic governance and marine resources management at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), University of Tasmania. He has held visiting or adjunct appointments at the Australian Maritime College, Australian Antarctic Division, the Australian National University and Dalhousie University, Canada. He is currently working on oceans and Antarctic governance, knowledge systems in coastal management, and Australia's regional fisheries interests.

Ocean and Antarctic Governance, IMAS. After many years working as a non-government advocate for high seas and Antarctic conservation, Lyn Goldsworthy completed her PhD at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, and is now an IMAS Associate. Her research focus is high seas and Antarctic governance and geopolitics. Current projects include spatial protection in the Southern Ocean, the rights of nature for Antarctica, and decision-forming mechanisms for the Antarctic Treaty System.

English. Prof Elizabeth (Elle) Leane has degrees in physics and literary studies, and her early research was in science communication. Her current research focuses on how people form their ideas of Antarctica both through cultural texts and lived experience of the environment, and how these two ways of knowing the region interact. She has visited Antarctica as a writer-in-resident, an educator and a researcher, with the Australian, New Zealand and Chilean national programs, and is currently collaborating with tour operators. Elle has published eight books, including Antarctica in Fiction (2012), South Pole: Nature and Culture (2016) and, with Jeff McGee, the collection Anthropocene Antarctica (2019).

Sociology/Anthropology. Can Seng Ooi is Professor of Cultural and Heritage Tourism. His research covers a number of areas, including tourism experiences, tourism development strategy, place branding, cross-cultural interaction and cultural development. Empirically, he has conducted comparative research in Australia, Denmark, Singapore, Malaysia, and now also Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. His personal website is

IMAS. Dr Rebecca Hingley is an honorary associate at IMAS with a research background in Political Geography and Heritage Studies. Her thesis focused on the geopolitics of cultural heritage management in Antarctica with an aim to expose how and why the governance of Antarctic heritage concerns more than the preservation and conservation of historic remains, and what effects these alternative agendas have on multilateral relations. Following the completion of her thesis, Rebecca worked for a not-for-profit championing Australia’s Antarctic heritage, and she now works for the Australian Antarctic Division in protected area management.

Sociology. Bruce Tranter is a professor of Sociology at the University of Tasmania. He conducts survey research on climate change attitudes, public trust in science, and national identity. His current research includes the analysis of national attitudinal data on public understanding of, and support for, Australian activities in Antarctica.

Linda Hunt

Media. Linda Hunt is a lecturer in media at the School of Creative Arts and Media. Linda is a former broadcast journalist for ABC News. Science and environment stories were a particular focus of her news career, with two reporting assignments to Antarctica among the highlights. Her current research focuses on the interplay between the Australian news media, science and politics in Antarctica. She is also interested in the role of news in public engagement with Antarctica, and how the news is drawn upon to make sense of scientific and environmental change in the region.

International Law/Geopolitics (will replace Climate Change, Marine and Antarctic Law, School of Law and IMAS). Jeffrey McGee is an Associate Professor who holds a joint appointment with the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies and Faculty of Law. His research centres on interdisciplinary research on Antarctic governance issues, particularly the intersection between international law and geopolitics. He has published widely on Antarctic law and governance and recently held an Australian Research Council Discovery grant (2019-2021) titled Geopolitical Change and the Antarctic Treaty System. He has previously held an Australian Research Council LIEF grant which allowed construction of the Antarctic Documents Database at the University of Tasmania. He is an affiliated researcher of the SCAR Humanities and Social Sciences Research Group. Jeff also currently supervisors four PhD students working on Antarctic governance issues.

Sociology. Meredith Nash is an Adjunct at the University of Tasmania. Her research interests focus on gender and social change. For example, she has undertaken a longitudinal project exploring the role of Antarctica in shaping the leadership capacities of a global group of women in STEMM fields.

Management, TSBE. Megan Woods is a Senior Lecturer in Management with the Tasmanian School of Business and Economics. She teaches and researches in the areas of strategic human resource management and workplace mental health, with a particular interest in optimising the workforces, work environments and work experiences of people working in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean. She leads the University of Tasmania's Future Polar Workforce initiative and the People program for the Centre for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Technology and Engineering, a collaboration between UTAS, the Australian Antarctic Division and CSIRO. She is currently researching psychosocial work environments on research vessels, career journeys of the ASO workforce, and optimisation of work experiences in isolated, contained and/or extreme work environments, and hosted the Future of Work and Workforces in the Antarctic and Southern Ocean conference in Hobart on 1 December 2022.

IMAS. Dr Hanne Nielsen is a Lecturer in Antarctic Law and Governance at the University of Tasmania. She specialises in representations of Antarctica in popular media, including in theatre and advertising material; polar tourism; and Antarctica as a workplace. Hanne has also conducted projects on women in Antarctica and recruitment advertising for Antarctic positions. Hanne is on the executive committee of the SCAR Standing Committee on Humanities and Social Sciences (SC-HASS), book review editor for The Polar Journal, a 2017 SCAR Fellow, and a past president of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS).

Humanities and Social Science. Joy McCann is an Adjunct at the University of Tasmania and Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University. She is an environmental historian focusing on the natural and cultural histories of the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. Her research interests include the history of science, more-than-human and multispecies histories, and experimental approaches to environmental storytelling. Joy has a professional background in public history, heritage and public policy, and she has held research positions with the Senate Committee Office, Australian Parliamentary Library, Museum of Australian Democracy, Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Heritage, and Australian Heritage Commission. She has written on many aspects of Australian environmental, cultural and political history. Recent publications include Ice Bound: The Australian Story of Antarctica (2022) and Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean (2018, 2019). Her current projects include an environmental history of Antarctica’s ice in the Anthropocene, and a history of oceans and law (with Professor Erika Techera, University of WA).

Psychology. Kimberley Norris is a Clinical Psychologist and researcher with an interest in Antarctic Psychology, in terms of health and performance of people living and working in Antarctica, as well as their families. Her work is also focused on supporting individuals and organisations to manage the challenges of climate change on Antarctic experiences. Kimberley is looking to develop new and innovative ways to provide psychological support for individuals in remote, rural, maritime and extreme environments at an individual, organisational, and familial level. Kimberley is also a member of the SCAR-COMNAP Joint Expert Group on Human Biology and Medicine.

Music. Carolyn Philpott is a Senior Lecturer in Musicology at the University of Tasmania, as well as an Adjunct Senior Researcher at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. Her research focuses on intersections between music, place and the environment - including music composed in response to Antarctica - and she has published articles in leading journals within the fields of musicology and polar studies, including Musicology Australia, Organised Sound, The Polar Journal and Polar Record.

Art. Martin Walch is a lecturer in Fine Art at the School of Creative Arts and Media. With skills in photography and data visualisation, he is interested in the visual representation of environmental change. Martin was awarded the Australian Antarctic Division's 2017-18 Antarctic Arts Fellowship, during which he made long term time-lapse studies of Mawson Station and environs.

Marine Governance, IMAS. Karen Alexander is an Adjunct at the University of Tasmania. Her research investigates interactions between communities/societies and the marine environment, with a particular focus on natural resource conflict. Recently, she has been working on the concept of Antarctic ambassadorship, particularly within Antarctic tourism. In 2018, Karen was part of a Women in STEM leadership program which took 80 women on a three-week expedition to Antarctica.

Visual art. Adele Jackson is an Adjunct at the University of Tasmania. She is an artist and a researcher interested in the interrelationships between nature and culture. Adele is currently a curator of human history at Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand. Specialising in Antarctic visual culture, her work investigates the role of art and cultural artefacts in interpreting and understanding the far south. Adele has worked in the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic Peninsula regions in heritage conservation and public engagement roles. Working for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, she was base leader at the Port Lockroy heritage site for two seasons. Her doctoral research examined the value of artists working in Antarctica, for which she compiled an international chronology of artists who have worked there. She recently completed an analysis of artistic representations of Mount Erebus. Currently she is investigating the arts of the sub-Antarctic region and is particularly interested in representations of the albatross and their cultural significance.

Architecture, Building Engineering, Spatial and Cultural Studies. Dr Miranda Nieboer is an affiliated IMAS researcher in spatial and cultural studies with a background in Architecture and Building Engineering. She has been researching, writing, exhibiting, and lecturing on human inhabitation in extreme environments for more than 20 years. During her PhD research into Antarctic interiors Miranda joined a logistical Antarctic traverse that enabled her to develop an embodied understanding of inhabiting the continent. With an interdisciplinary approach her research builds bridges between different research disciplines that investigate the southernmost continent. Miranda's work underlines the need for a further spatial and interdisciplinary consideration in Antarctic research. Currently she teaches in research and design in the Master of Architecture.

Current PhD Candidates

Bruno Arpi, "The Role of Argentina and Australia in Managing Geopolitical Tensions with the ATS"

Katie Marx, "Gateway Cities and Antarctic Futures: Developing methods for inclusive community contributions"

Kimberley Aiken

Humanities and Social Science. Kimberly Aiken is a PhD student at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, undertaking a research project focused on building more diverse, equitable, and inclusive extreme and remote workforces with lessons from Antarctica and Underground Mining using intersectionality to examine overlapping identities such as race, ethnicity, and gender to promote recruitment and retention of historically underrepresented groups. Kimberly has a master's in international environmental policy, worked on Arctic Governance with the Alfred Wegener Institute German Arctic Office, Arctic plastic pollution in Norway with GRID-Arendal and Antarctic and Southern Ocean environmental protection with the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition. Kimberly is the creator of digital story map Securing the Next 30 Years of Antarctic Protection and contributed to several outreach and advocacy platforms, such as EU4Oceans and the Historians for Future podcasts and magazine interviews, highlighting the significance of protecting the polar regions. Kimberly is a co-lead in the Diversity and Inclusion Community Practice Group with the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and published commentary articles with the Arctic Institute and the Cardiff University Arctic Scholarship & Stories to facilitate discussion on diversity and inclusion in Arctic policy and science. Kimberly’s was a 2019 Center for the Blue Economy fellow at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and a Student Forum scholarship recipient to the 2020 Arctic Frontiers Conference in Norway. Kimberly is a polar expert with the Oregon State University Polar STEAM Program. She is a member of the Antarctic Women's Network, a member of the SCAR Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Group, an Executive Committee member of APECS Oceania, and a member of the Centre for Marine Socioecology (CMS).

Rachel Meyers, "Hearing the Southern Ocean through Music"

Chelsea Long, "Improving Australia's water security using ice core research"

Chelsea has researched ice cores and was awarded New Colombo Plan and AINSE scholarships, winning the 2017 AMOS regional award for her studies. Chelsea has experience in Antarctica and Australian laboratories processing and analysing ice cores. After five years, she developed a policy-based PhD aiming to bring paleoclimate studies to the forefront of climate policies, looking at how ice core research can improve Australia's water security. Chelsea is also part of the Young Tassie Scientist Program and connects the public with Antarctic sciences.

Mengzhu Zhang

Mengzhu Zhang is a PhD student at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania. Mengzhu's PhD project is studying China's engagement within the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). Her research aims to address the link between China's Antarctic Science and its engagement with the ATS, and to help improve understanding of how China fulfils its commitment to the ATS. Mengzhu is interested in the field of developing science and technology policy and promoting cooperation between nations through science diplomacy.

News and Events

News and Past Events

April 2023

Tourism Workshop Hosts International Researchers and Industry Professionals

A workshop entitled ‘Tourism and Risk in the Antarctic Region’, supported by the College of Arts, Law and Education, was held at IMAS on 21 April 2023. This half-day workshop saw a series of lightning talks by researchers and industry representatives, followed by a panel discussion that highlighted some of the key themes that emerged from the day’s workshop: risk posed to/by Antarctic tourism and scientific expeditions, risk mitigation strategies, and comparative research between tourism to the Arctic and Antarctica. Of the many attendees and presenters, we were pleased to have in attendance a number of international visitors: Machiel Lamers (Netherlands), Anna-Mari Simunaniemi (Finland), Daniela Liggett (New Zealand), and Emma Stewart (New Zealand). The mixture of experiences and professional backgrounds in the room gave rise to an enlightening discussion and generated a number of important questions surrounding Antarctic tourism and risk that will likely form the basis for future projects and research outputs in the future.

January 2023

"Project Antarctica" Workshop Brings Researchers Together

Dr Tirza Meyer, a historian of science from KTH Stockholm, visited the University of Tasmania in January 2023 and hosted a workshop on "Project Antarctica." This full day workshop presented the opportunity for 18 researchers from a range of disciplines to come together and exchange ideas about Southern Ocean science, policy, and technology. Topics on the agenda included regulations and policies in Antarctica, how technology has been used explore the Southern Ocean - particularly for under sea ice observation of the marine ecosystem - and an in-depth discussion about the interrelationship of science, technology and policy-making. The workshop discussions will feed into Dr Meyer's forthcoming book on "The Humanoid Ocean" which examines the ways technology mediates human engagements with the deep oceans.

January 2023

UTAS researchers put Antarctic tourism in the news

In early January 2023, the Antarctic tourism research team published an article in the Conversation which attracted considerable media attention, including from ABCNews24, Sky News, Radio National and Radio Melbourne. Dr Hanne Nielsen was also interviewed for an article in the Guardian.


A full range of publications relevant to Human Engagements with Antarctica can be found on our researcher's full profiles linked above. These include journal articles, books, chapters in books, reviews, conference publications, thesis, and other public output. Some notable books are listed below.

Book cover of South Pole Nature and Culture

South Pole

Nature and Culture

By Elizabeth Leane

In South Pole Elizabeth Leane explores the important challenges that this strange place poses to humanity.