Clare Ballantyne who graduated from Oxford Earth Sciences last summer is one of 4 women selected to run the world’s most remote post office in Antarctica. Clare, along with Mairi Hilton, Natalie Corbett and Lucy Bruzzone beat a record number of applicants to become the team responsible for managing historic site Port Lockroy, on Goudier Island.
They will be based on the island for five months during the summer season, travelling 9,000 miles from the UK to reopen the bay for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic. Clare is to be the post master and will deal by hand with approximately 80,000 cards, which are mailed each year from the site to more than 100 countries. Other jobs by the team include counting the colony of Gentoo penguins who they will be sharing the island with and managing the gift shop and museum which sees visitors come by ship.
With no flushing toilet, running water or wifi and small shared living quaters, homely comforts will be limited in a place that sees sub zero temperatures and alomst constant daylight but Clare tells us ‘I am excited to spend four months in Antarctica running the world’s most southerly public post office and monitoring the penguin population at the birthplace of the British Antarctic Survey!’ and many earth scientists here in the department would jump just as quickly at the opportunity which was given by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) charity.
One such member of the department who knows all about working in Antarctica is Dr Laura Stevens – Laura completed an expedition to Antarctica in the 2021 season to retrieve data logged on instruments set out two years previously at the Fossil Bluff Field Station (BAS) on the edge of the George VI Ice Shelf. We asked Laura what she thought of Clare and this opportunity “Having advised Clare on an independent project going into her third year, I know that she possesses the self-starter and all-around inquisitive qualities that make for excellent Antarctic citizens and scientists.” She continues “Many people who have travelled to Antarctica say that it’s hard to describe—you just have to go there. I wish Clare a wonderful first trip, and recommend taking a well-stocked e-reader for poor-weather days!”
Dr Heather Bouman Clare’s MPhil supervisor says ‘I am delighted to hear the news that Clare was selected as one of the four women that will run the world’s most remote historic site in Antarctica. Clare is an exceptionally talented and inspiring earth scientist and will use her many skills to tackle the elements while passing on her tremendous enthusiasm and knowledge of polar science to others.’
We wish Clare the very best for her trip and look forward to hearing all about it on her return!