Skip to content

Antarctic Engagements Research Group

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 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.

Antarctic Engagements is a network of researchers across the University working to understand the social, cultural and political dimension of human engagement 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.

Law and Policy (Polar Governance). Julia Jabour is an Adjunct at IMAS. She has 120 publications and more than 70 media interviews. She also has numerous teaching awards and has taught in Malaysia, Iceland, New Zealand, Vietnam, Iran and Japan. She has attended a number of Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings on the Australian delegation and has been to Antarctica six times. Julia has had 16 PhD and 2 Masters Completions plus she has a number of continuing candidates. Julia was Erskine Fellow, University of Canterbury, Christchurch NZ 2011–12; Visiting Academic, University of Akureyri, Iceland, 2011–2019; Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research (SCOR) Visiting Scholar, Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science, Tehran, Iran, 2017; and Visiting Professor, Polar Cooperation Research Centre, Kobe University, Japan, 2018. She co-convened the 12th Polar Law Symposium in Hobart in 2019.


English. Elizabeth Leane holds an ARC Future Fellowship split between the School of Humanities and the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. With degrees in both science and literature, she is interested in building bridges between disciplines, and particularly in bringing the insights of the humanities to the study of the Antarctic.

Dr Ben Maddison

Oceans & Cryosphere, IMAS.

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 holds 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 a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Tasmania. Her research interests focus on gender and social change. She is currently undertaking a longitudinal project exploring the role of Antarctica in shaping the leadership capacities of a global group of women in STEMM fields.

Marine Biology. Stephen Nicol is an Adjunct Professor at IMAS. He is an Antarctic ecologist who engages with colleagues in the humanities. His published work includes scientific papers, popular science, travel writing, short fiction and a popular science book, The Curious Life of Krill (Island Press, Washington D.C.).

English. Dr Hanne Nielsen is a Lecturer in the English Department at the University of Tasmania. She specialises in representations of Antarctica in cultural production, with a focus on advertising material and how Antarctica is delivered as a tourism product. 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).

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. 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 a research fellow at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania. Her research investigates interactions between communities/societies and the marine environment, with a particular focus on natural resource conflict. Currently she is 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.

Current PhD Candidates

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

John Hairr, "Southern Ocean Whaling and Global Connectivity in the Nineteenth Century"

Rebecca Hingley, "The geopolitics of heritage management in Antarctica: Whose perspective counts?"

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

Rachel Meyers, "Hearing the Southern Ocean through Music."

Miranda Nieboer, "Antarctic Interiors."

News and Events

News and Past Events

Antarctic Engagements

November 2020

Book launch for Performing Ice

In November 2020, Antarctic Engagements researchers Carolyn Philpott and Elizabeth Leane spoke at the international online launch of Palgrave Macmillan’s Performing Landscapes series, which features their new book Performing Ice (co-edited with Matt Delbridge). This volume examines the diverse ways in which ice and humans have performed with and alongside each other over the last few centuries and features chapters from several “Antarctic Engagements” researchers, including Hanne Nielsen, Julia Jabour, Elizabeth Leane and Carolyn Philpott.

Find out more

Antarctic Engagements

March 2020

Professor Michael Robinson Visit

UTAS hosted Prof Robinson, from the University of Hartford in Connecticut, through its visiting scholar scheme. Michael has published widely in the history of exploration, including The Coldest Crucible: Arctic Exploration and American Culture, and also runs a high-impact academic podcast, Time to Eat the Dogs. He gave presentations at the new UTAS Hedberg building, the Maritime Museum of Tasmania, and (via Zoom) a ‘Pint of History’ evening. He also conducted on life at Macquarie Island for a book he is currently writing about extreme environmental stations.

Michael met with a number of the Antarctic Engagements researchers to talk about shared polar research interests. We were sorry that this interaction was cut short by the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the accompanying restrictions, and were glad to hear when Michael arrived back safely in Hartford.

Antarctic Engagements

February 2020

Antarctic Peninsula visit

Antarctic Engagements researcher Elizabeth Leane travelled with the Chilean national program to the Antarctic Peninsula region together with Prof Juan Francisco Salazar and five youth representatives – one from each “gateway” city – as an academic leader of the Antarctic Cities Youth Expedition. Hobart’s youth champion was UTAS alumni Chloe Power. This expedition – part of an ARC Linkage Project focussed on rethinking the Antarctic gateways – received national press coverage in Chile and Australia.

Listen to ABC Radio National feature

Available Research Degree Projects

There are currently no available Research Degree Projects currently available with the Antarctic Engagements Research Group. However, this will change in the future so please continue to visit this section.

For a full list of current University projects, see the Research Division – Available Research Degree Projects.


A full range of publications relevant to Antarctic Engagements 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.