Zoé Moskwiak, an intern at UNIS

Curious about what it looks like to be an intern in a research project at UNIS?

This is a short interview with Zoé, an intern working with Emelie during spring 2023

Can you shortly introduce yourself?

My name is Zoé Moskwiak, I’m 24 years old, and I come from Belgium. I enjoy learning new things and understanding how nature works, that’s why I decided to study biology. Moreover, I love outdoor sports like hiking, running, and cycling and I am always amazed by the landscapes I can see. I also love travelling and discovering new places.

What are your research interests (background)? What do you study at your home university?

For the last two year, I have been pursuing a Master in organisms and ecology at UCLouvain, in Belgium. I did my Master’s thesis last year on the impact of light pollution, and of the tree cover, on the effect that the phase of the lunar cycle can have on moths’ diversity.

What is your internship about? What are you hoping to gain for experience?

As an intern, I’ve been mainly helping in two projects so far.

For the first one, I’m helping a Master student to count reindeers and make snow measurements. His Master’s thesis is a part of a study about gradient that has been going on for several years (Bjørndalen Integrated Gradients (BIG)).

The second one is the Terra project. Since it’s still winter, I’m mainly helping with practical things in order to prepare the experiments that will take place this summer. For example, lids were made for the exclosure, and they were taken out to the field. Ingrowth bags were also made.

I’m so happy to have the chance to learn how the arctic ecosystem works. I’m used to forest, and fields, and having the opportunity to work here is awesome. I’m also learning a lot about fieldwork logistics and the setting up of experiments.

What strike you the most about living and working in the High Arctic?

Thinking that I live in the northernmost city is fantastic. A lot of people didn’t know where Svalbard was until I told them. When I showed them where it was, they were so impressed, because it’s so north! Life here is so different, everybody is nice.

Tell us about your favourite field experience so far!

I love the fieldwork here because it’s so different from what I know. The landscapes are wonderful, and you can work with reindeers only a few metres away. Working in so much snow without freezing, even if it’s really cold, is such a strange feeling.

Can you describe a typical weekend in Svalbard?

Since one day of the weekend is taken with the reindeer count, I usually use the other day to rest, to read a book, and to clean my room. Sometimes, I wander around the shops in town.

Can you come up with 4 words to describe of the wild nature in Svalbard?

White, wilderness, harsh, peaceful

Zoé was interviewed by Hélène Barthelemy (Spring 2023)

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