Explorer and geology student from New York, USA

Christiane (Chrissy) McCabe has spent the five years since her first SOI expedition to the Arctic in 2010 exploring the North, from Alaska to Svalbard and pursuing a career in geology. She is currently completing her undergrad at Bates College in Maine, USA and is set to graduate in the spring of 2016.


The Expedition Experience

Chrissy’s expedition set in place a love of the Arctic that has led her back many times since. During her expedition she remembers lying on the top deck of the ship, swapping stories underneath the Northern Lights with students who were from the Arctic.

Realizing Goals & Ambitions

Chrissy says her experience with Students on Ice helped her choose where to study, and it ultimately directed her career path. She decided to study geology at Bates College, a small liberal arts college in Maine, after connecting with a professor and Arctic researcher, who would later become her advisor, about his Arctic research.

“[Going to Bates] opened a whole bunch of doors for me, because my advisor, Mike, does a lot of lake studies, and paleoclimatology based on lake cores from the Canadian Arctic and the Norwegian Arctic, and so I’ve been able to do studies with that from my first year all the way into my third year where I’m taking part in setting up weather stations and putting in all the logging equipment into the lake water while it’s still frozen, and I now have funding and fellowships to come back in the summer and retrieve all the data, and write my thesis on it.”

“I went to the Arctic, and I came back, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful places I had ever been and I wanted to spend the rest of my life up there, I could not wait to go back.”

Making a Difference

In 2013, after she finished the Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP), during which she spent nearly two months studying glaciers in the Alaskan wilderness, Chrissy returned to her high school and gave presentations to science classes about her experiences in polar science through JIRP and SOI. Teachers said it opened their students’ minds to different career opportunities.

More recently, her contribution to the polar science community has been her research that has helped to determine the onset of the ‘little ice age’ in Svalbard, Norway

Looking Ahead

Chrissy plans to pursue a PhD in the future, and if the right opportunity presents itself, she says she would jump right in. She will graduate with an undergraduate degree in the spring of 2016, and hopes to take a year off to teach English in Micronesia and to learn how to SCUBA dive. She has always wanted to try polar diving but wants to hone her skills in warmer waters. “After a full polar year I really want warm weather,” she says.

On overwintering in Svalbard: “It’s one of the most mentally challenging, but personally enriching experiences you can have.”

"A few girls think about doing science, but not many. And I know most girls would not think about doing expeditionary sciences, and I think the fact that I could even spark that idea in some of their minds, I think that’s what I contributed to."