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It has been a big leap for the 23-year-old from Allahabad who pursued her graduation from Sri Venkateswara College before joining TERI University to pursue her MSc in climate science and policy.
How did you get this opportunity? How did you end up in an offbeat , unusual and cool career such as this?
During her third semester at TERI University, Archana Dayal had the opportunity to join an expedition to Kolahoi glacier in the Western Himalaya (in Kashmir) to study the geomorphological features of glaciers during the course work on Glacier Hydrology. Archana’s summer internship and Master’s dissertation at India’s nodal centre for polar research, National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) in Goa sparked her interest in Antarctic science.
She says, “My experience at NCAOR was enriching as I learnt and employed new tools and techniques that contributed to my understanding of the history of our planet.” Being new to the field, her
supervisors played an important role in guiding her.
Can you talk a bit about the expedition to Antarctic?
“I am excited to be a member of the 33rd Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica from December 2013 to March 2014 and to work at the Indian stations, Bharati and Maitri. My research is on the biogeochemical studies of blue ice (it looks blue in colour) in coastal East Antarctica. For the project, I will collect ice cores (one metre in length) and carry out the research to find out what microbes inhabit the ice core, the ionic composition, the total organic carbon, dissolved organic compound, etc. This project is important since the microbes inhabiting the blue ice regions have the potential to fix carbon and influence climate change and by knowing more about them a lot can be explored,” she adds.
Archana is the only student researcher in this expedition. She will be joining the group as they fly to Cape Town in December followed by a two-week voyage by ship to the Indian research station, Bharati. Archana wants to pursue a career in polar science.