Meet the ARC's postgraduate students.

Our postgraduate students are providing further insight into Antarctic climate and ice sheet processes, and their impact on the earth system.

PhD candidate Julia Martin

Moving to New Zealand to study snow in Antarctica, based at the ARC, was something Julia never envisioned for herself. Growing up on the countryside near Berlin, Germany, she's a passionate horse rider, likes to play jazz guitar and hated physics and maths in high school.

But after leaving school and a year volunteering with underprivileged youths, bike-touring through Scandinavia and working as an au pair in Dublin, Ireland, Julia was ready to start university and realised it was possible to learn something from scratch – like physics and maths. She had developed a love of the polar regions through nature documentaries and jumped into a geography undergraduate degree at the Free University of Berlin. In a complete turnaround, she found the coursework did not include enough physics and maths, so switched to geological science. This was the start of her deep passion for snow and ice.

Julia Martin in goggles

An internship at the Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven, scanning ice samples in their state-of-the-art walk-in ice core computer tomograph, inspired an undergraduate thesis on snow, and eventually a Masters in Geosciences with focus on glaciology at the University of Bremen. By this time, her career included: a paid internship in snow physics with Dr Martin Schneebeli at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos, Switzerland, resulting in the publication of her B.Sc. thesis (; a collaboration with Dr Julia Boike and the Permafrost Research Group at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany, including two years of fieldwork on Svalbard, Norway; her M.Sc. thesis on snow-permafrost interactions (; and a publication (paper and mobile app) on how to better monitor permafrost thaw within the international T-MOSAiC project (

By 2022 Julia had already been accepted as a PhD candidate in Corvallis, Oregon as part of the NASA SnowEx campaign when snow specialist at the ARC, Dr Ruzica Dadic, contacted Julia, asking if she’d consider coming to NZ to contribute to Ruzcia's research of the Antarctic. Following her passion and love for Antarctica, Julia reconsidered her future and moved to Wellington, New Zealand in October 2022 to undertake her PhD entitled: The Impact of Snow on the Formation and Evolution of Antarctic Sea Ice. The first part of her PhD involves using drones to create aerial maps of the snow physical properties (surface temperature and roughness) on the sea ice in the Mc Murdo Sound, Antarctica. With her PhD, Julia wants to better understand the snow-sea ice interactions and implement these processes into current numerical models to better predict future sea ice formation and evolution.

Julia’s connection to the Arctic and Antarctic is from both “heart and brain”. Having travelled to the Antarctic for research during the 2022-23 season, it's a future dream to spend a winter there and understand and monitor the snow properties during the dark season.

Through the tool of science, she wants to educate so that people will care for and protect these unique and vulnerable regions.  This drive to educate is one of the reasons she has become involved in Girls* on Ice Aotearoa/New Zealand, hosted by the ARC (

PhD candidate Yaowen Zheng

In the next couple of months, Yaowen will complete his thesis, marking the end of his studies at The Antarctic Research Centre. We had a chat with him about what brought him to Wellington and what’s next once he completes his PhD.

Yaowen Zheng profile photo

Yaowen has a self-professed love of ALL sciences - once he completes his PhD, he is open to taking on post-doctoral opportunities just about anywhere, in just about any earth science. His other passion is badminton, having played for many clubs including three universities, and competed at the NZ National Tertiary Championships.
Highlights of Yaowen’s PhD studies have included travelling to Alaska on the S.T Lee Travel Award and presenting research findings to both past and present colleagues at the recent New Zealand-Australia Antarctic Science Conference 2023. He has published two papers, including one in the The Cryosphere, with a third in progress.
Yaowen’s love for sciences started at high school in Qingdao, China - a city on the east coast of China, between Shanghai and Beijing. His undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours, was in Physical Oceanography and Marine and Antarctic Sciences completed jointly at Ocean University of China in Qingdao, and at the University of Tasmania, Australia. One of his Honours supervisors in Tasmania introduced him to ARC’s Professor Nicholas Golledge, who eventually invited Yaowen to undertake his PhD alongside the Modelling Hub at the ARC.

Yaowen Zheng playing badminton

Travel to New Zealand was delayed by closed borders during Covid, so initial research was undertaken remotely from Australia, but he finally received a visa waiver to travel to NZ in April 2021.
Read here about Yaowen’s thesis:  Understanding surface melt in Antarctica and implication for future ice sheet evolution.