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PhD course at Arctic Station Published 05.05.2012

It’s the end of April and the rooms at Arctic Station in Qeqertarsuaq are filled with busy PhD students from the entire North who have come to learn about the presently on-going great algae spring-bloom in the bay.  The laboratory at Arctic Station is filled with flasks, pipettes, water samples and Nordic master students.

“The students come from universities in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland and even one from New Zealand” says seminar leader, professor Torkel Gissel Nielsen from DTU Aqua in Denmark, who took the initiative for a course in spring-bloom.

Scientists from Spain, Svalbard, Iceland and Denmark are teaching at the seminar including Kristine Arendt and Thomas Juul-Pedersen from GCRC in Nuuk. From their own studies they are quite familiar with the ecosystem in Diskobugten.

“This is a great chance to discuss with colleague scientists and find out what’s going on on other locations and besides, it’s great fun to instruct the students,” says Kristine Arendt. She and Thomas Juul-Pedersen instruct the course “fate of the Arctic spring-bloom” to demonstrate how many of the algae are eaten by copepods in the water and how many end up on the seabed as food for shrimps and mussels.


The teaching is done not only in classroom and laboratory but also at sea. Aboard the Arctic Station vessel “Porsild” the students collect samples for a closer study of algae and copepods, the smallest inhabitants of the sea.

“The spring bloom of algae begins when the ice breaks and sunlight hits the water, and this date changes from year to year. We are really fortunate to be here right now with the amount of algae at its peak, so the students have plenty to study and examine”, informs professor Torkel Gissel Nielsen, who himself has done frequent field-work at Arctic Station since the early 90ties.

During the 10-day long course, the students collaborate on four different research projects as well as in cooking and shopping. All these situations open up for networking and collaboration with other international students who may be a future colleague.

The PhD course at Arctic Station is financed by Nordforsk (Nordic Council)

What is a PhD.?                     

A Ph.D. is a three-year science education. You enrol on a number of courses, such as the one at Arctic Station, but the main part of the Ph.D. study is independent research with a final thesis. The Ph.D. students at this course all work in different ways with copepods, the small plankton feeding on algae and which itself is eaten by e.g. other fry. The copepod is as such important to the occurrence of shrimp, fish and whales.

Further information:
Professor Torkel Gissel Nielsen, DTU Aqua. Mobile: +45 25 58 06 57. Mail: tgin@aqua.dtu.dk

This article was written by Line Reeh, journalist, DTU Aqua, lre@aqua.dtu.dk

The copepod, Calanus hyperboreus. One of the small creatures feeding on the presently occurring spring-bloom in Diskobugten. Photo: Russ Hopcroft

Arctic Station in Qeqertarsuaq. Photo: Line Reeh

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