Live Events

The 2018 speakers

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For this year’s Arctic Live event, Digital Explorer joined forces with researchers from the University of Exeter and Plymouth Marine Laboratory to discuss the science and the challenges facing the extreme environment of the Arctic.


Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop
Director, Digital Explorer

Educationalist and expedition-leader, Jamie recognised the need to narrow the gap between science and his students. In 2004, he began experimenting with the use of technology in the classroom to find ways to spark his pupils’ imagination. By 2007, he founded Digital Explorer to provide his students with real-life encounters with field scientists working in the remote corners of the planet.A decade later, Digital Explorer has made science an exciting subject for millions of children around the globe. In addition to the Oceans Education Explore Live programmes, it has added 360 Virtual Reality as a new tool to support teachers in their mission to inspire students to learn. In 2017, Digital Explorer’s Arctic 360VR reached over 1.1 million views.


Dr Katie Smith, Marine Biologist
University of Exeter, UK

Katie’s research focuses on understanding how marine invertebrates can adapt to survive in our rapidly changing world. She began working at Exeter in 2016 after returning to the UK from a research position in Florida. Her current research examines how climate change and ocean acidification will affect the survival of marine species around the world.

Katie has a great passion for working in the polar regions and she is no stranger to the cold. She has previously led teams of scientists on two research expeditions to the Antarctic and participated on one to the Arctic. Prior to completing her PhD, Katie spent several years working and travelling in remote areas of the world. Her work included teaching biology in Uganda, researching coral reefs in the Caribbean, and sailing across the Pacific Ocean.


Clara Nielson, PhD student
University of Exeter, UK

Clara is in her last year of her PhD in marine biology at University of Exeter, working on the effects of ocean acidification and pollution. She mainly focuses on sediment dwelling polychaetes and how they respond to a lowering pH, combined with metal pollutants.Clara’s interest in following a scientist’s career stems from her undergraduate degree, also at Exeter, where she had the opportunity to study marine biology as well as base her dissertation on the subject of ocean acidification. She was lucky to have Dr Ceri Lewis as her supervisor for her dissertation, who she then went on to start her PhD with.On her first expedition to the Arctic, she will be taking water samples for carbonate chemistry as well as sampling for microplastics.

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Nick Scott, MSc student
University of Exeter, UK

Nick is an MSc by research student at the University of Exeter studying microplastics and plastic debris in the marine environment. He is researching the relationship between microplastic particles in seawater, coastal sediment, and in blue mussels in estuaries and rocky shores on the south-west coast of the UK.

Nick’s interest in how we interact with the marine environment developed from his undergraduate degree in biological sciences, also at University of Exeter. In June 2017, he co-led a research expedition with Sail Britain investigating the distribution of microplastics in Cornwall’s rivers.

Nick will taking samples of microplastics and plankton at different depths of the water to investigate the transport of plastic waste to the Arctic.

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Eleanor MacKay, 
Science communicator & field producer

Ellie is an award-winning science communicator and extreme environment filmmaker with a passion for social impact. She specialises in conservation, tech and environment as well as humanitarian relief. She has a postgraduate degree in Science Communication following 7 years’ international science teaching and previous experience in TV production. She is now combining her production skills and love of scientific storytelling to create engaging content. Her particular passion lies in highlighting environmental solutions through mixed media, including online written, visual and audio materials, short films and podcasts.

Nick Cox, UK Arctic Research Station Manager on Svalbard
Nick Cox, 
UK Arctic Research Station Manager

Nick has worked for BAS for more than 40 years. He started in 1975 as a builder/boatman, initially spending two Antarctic winters at Signy Island Research Station. In 1991, whilst Base Commander of Signy, he was asked to establish, develop and manage a new Arctic research station, within the international science centre at Svalbard, for NERC. He continues this work as Station Manager of the UK Arctic Research Station.

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