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© Johanna Schramm, All rights reserved

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Participation in UNIS course Freshwater Ecology of Arctic Lakes and Ponds

Saskia Läubli


Universität Basel

Lay summary

Description of the programme

We were taught a combination of practical tools and theory to study the biology of organisms, from microbes to fish, as well as the chemical and physical conditions in Arctic lakes and ponds. The focus lied on the winter season, the prevailing season in the Arctic, where we looked at how abiotic factors influence the ecology and food web dynamics within these specialized freshwater ecosystems. The course also encompassed health and safety trainings that are crucial for working in remote regions with high hazard potential. The course was interdisciplinary, and empowered the participants to develop own ideas and scientific hypotheses.

How did you benefit from the programme?

This course was a unique opportunity to learn practically and theoretically about Arctic freshwater ecosystems within a group of highly motivated and engaged people. The health and safety trainings were effective and the knowledge transfer was efficient and connected theory with practice. To understand the connection of various parameters within an ecosystem and learn how biotic and abiotic factors influence each other is integrated knowledge of high value. Additionally, the course included participants of various backgrounds, which opened up a network of people that work in polar regions. This can be highly relevant in science.

What were the highlights of the training?

My personal highlight was the thought through teaching of the professor and course coordinator. I learned much about how to design an inclusive course program that included fruitful discussions. I also learned how to lead and moderate scientific debates and how scientific collaboration and science communication could look like. Furthermore, the combination of practical methods we learned and theoretical inputs we got was unique and to be able to intensively altercate with Arctic freshwater ecosystems definitely pushed my engagement with and understanding of polar science. The network I gained through this course is also one of many highlights.

Would you recommend the programme to other students?

I definitely recommend the programme to other students. There is no other place I know of where this kind of training is provided and where learning is that applied. Furthermore, being surrounded by polar experts and science enthusiasts is special and creates a unique environment of highly motivated teachers and students. The course I took is one of many possible courses but the value of what I learned within these five weeks is extraordinary. The course stimulated many thoughts and ideas for my own research and it motivated me further to think critically and develop new ideas.


Regional focus Arctic
Location Svalbard
Funded amount 1,500 CHF
Project dates 23rd February 2023 – 24th March 2023
Category Field and Summer Schools
arctic, ponds, freshwater ecology