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One could think that there’s nothing more different than a bustling Indian metropolis and a Finnish city located only kilometres away from the Arctic Circle. However, India-born Venkata Gandikota has no trouble feeling at home in Rovaniemi.
Gandikota, who grew up in Hyderabad, – a city of over six million inhabitants in the south of India – moved to Rovaniemi over two years ago and still loves the capital of Lapland. “Rovaniemi is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen”, he says.
What did you study?
Holder of a Bachelor degree in chemical engineering from Osmania University, India, and a Master’s degree in environmental engineering from Texas A&M University, US, Gandikota got interested in ice and climate research after reading Richard Alley’s book The Two-Mile Time Machine: ice cores, abrupt climate change, and our future.
In the book, Alley, a participant in many expeditions to Greenland and Antarctica, explains how ice caps record climate history, how to read those records in cylinders of bored ice, and what they reveal about changes in climate. “It got me interested,” explains Gandikota, who then started to look for programs all over the world that would allow him to “get a foot in the door” of the polar research field.
The Arctic Studies Program (ASP) at the University of Lapland seemed to be the perfect way to reach this goal, as it was inexpensive and allowed him to study the North without having to start his graduate education all over again.
The ASP (www.ulapland.fi/ASP) is a multidisciplinary program providing comprehensive knowledge of the physical, environmental, social and cultural aspects of the Arctic.
The fact that the university also had the Arctic Centre (www.arcticcentre.org ), a unit which conducts internationally high-level multidisciplinary research, was a major incentive for Gandikota.
Can you explain some of your work?
Never losing sight of his aspirations to work with some of the world’s top Arctic researchers, Gandikota approached the Arctic Centre’s John Moore as soon as he completed the one-year program and eventually got a spot on the researcher’s ice and climate research team. “It wasn’t easy, I hard to work hard for it,” he says, adding that, at first, his engineering background made some people sceptical he could work as a researcher.
I used to work at METLA labs in Rovaniemi for cutting and cleaning a section of the ice cores from Lomonosovfonna and Holtedalfonna glaciers, Svalbard. I also participated as a member of the IPY-Kinnvika ice core drilling team on Vestfonna glacier, Svalbard in spring 2008 with responsibility to do electrical conductivity measurements.