The 2022 – 2023 Belgian Team

I am Gerlien Verhaegen, marine biologist at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. My specialty is the ecology and evolution of jellyfish. Jellyfish are important components of marine ecosystems, but are still largely understudied. My role is therefore to study the diversity, distribution, ecology, and genetic connectivity of Antarctic jellyfish. Onboard of the RV Polarstern, my team (SO-JELLY) will deploy plankton nets to sample jellyfish, and sample sea water to study them through environmental DNA.

I am Matthias Troch, PhD student in glacial geology at Ghent University. I study marine-terminating glaciers in Chilean Patagonia and West Antarctica, and their response to oceanic and climatic changes. I particularly focus on the current interglacial (last 11.7 thousand years) and last glacial (11.7 – 115 thousand years ago) periods. The ultimate goal of my research is to provide a paleo-perspective for how rapidly the Antarctic Ice Sheet could respond to temperature and precipitation regimes of the future.

I am Meltse van Coillie, a filmmaker, and I will hop onboard the RV Polarstern – not for a scientific study, but rather to study the scientists themselves. After having made three short films, I am currently in the process of developing my first feature film. As the concept for this film is closely linked to the expedition we will embark on, I hope to observe the scientists and crew members and to get inspired by their daily activities whilst writing a screenplay.

I am Charlotte Havermans, group leader of the ARJEL jellyfish team at the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, in Bremerhaven, Germany. With my team, we address the diversity and role of jellyfish in polar ecosystems, and how planktonic communities are impacted by climate change. We apply modern tools including underwater optics and molecular techniques such as environmental DNA. As my team members and I have been out sampling already several times in the Arctic this year, both in winter and summer, I now assist the Polarstern SO-Jelly team and project from home through the logistics and scientific planning, as well as sample processing and paper writing at their return.