Victoria student to follow great explorer

Victoria University of Wellington PhD student Ben Hines will next week set out on a journey that few people have ever made.

Ben Hines

Victoria University of Wellington PhD student Ben Hines will next week set out on a journey that few people have ever made.

The 24-year-old Geology student is one of a select group chosen to join a scientific exploration of the little travelled subantarctic region.

Ben will take part in The Spirit of Mawson: The Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014 which marks the centenary of an expedition of the same name led by the Australian scientist and explorer Sir Douglas Mawson.

The 2013 expedition will build upon the observations made during the original journey 100 years ago to try to better understand present and future change in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

The voyage will be split into two legs—the first to Auckland and Campbell Islands in the subantarctic region, and the second to Commonwealth Bay in Antarctica. Ben will be on the first leg which takes place from 27 November to 7 December.

The University of New South Wales in Sydney has organised the centenary expedition and while some of the places on the boat have been filled by their own staff and students, the University also made four places available to postgraduate students from around the world.

Ben, who completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Geology at Victoria, says he jumped at the chance to be one of them.

“I’ve always been interested in Antarctica. To be considered, we had to make a two minute YouTube video. I didn’t want to just talk to the camera, so for a month I took the camera along on Geology field trips and enlisted a friend or colleague to film me teaching, diving, clambering over mountains, and smashing rocks, all in the name of science.”

Ben was chosen from a field of 68 applicants. Also joining the expedition are scientists from a range of disciplines, media, and members of the public, while other scientists will participate from the shore. The latter group includes Professor Lionel Carter and Dr Nick Golledge from Victoria University’s Antarctic Research Centre.

Scientists and students on the expedition will work together to complete surveys of wild-life, plant-life, and geological features, as well as meteorological and oceanographic information, to provide the first complete snapshot of this region in 100 years. Their data will provide a baseline for further research into a number of issues including how the world’s climate is changing.

Ben says: “The chance to work with scientists from a range of disciplines is a fantastic opportunity and I feel incredibly lucky to get to visit a part of the world where not many people have been.”

Watch Ben’s YouTube application video

Find out more about the expedition