CityU undergraduates embark on Antarctica expedition

Christina Wu

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Twenty-three undergraduates from different schools and departments at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) will embark on an expedition to Antarctica in December to explore extreme environments.
 
Environmental and ecological data will be collected, interpreted and presented in new forms of creativity using media art. The 21-day Antarctica venture, the first ever organised by a local university in Hong Kong, will begin on 14 December.
 
This unique overseas expedition experience embodies the spirit and mission of the University’s ground-breaking Discovery-enriched Curriculum. It offers students a highly innovative opportunity to make original discoveries and become immersed in interdisciplinary learning.
 
“The Antarctica project aims to help students seek new ways to present environmental, biological, structural, chemical, political and social data they collect in the Antarctica,” said Professor Arthur Ellis, CityU’s Provost.
 
“The Antarctica expedition enables artists, researchers and scientists to work together, collecting and interpreting environmental data using creative visualisation methods. These innovative art and design projects will be inspired by the unique nature of those remote science stations in Antarctica,” said Professor Jeffrey Shaw, Dean of School of Creative Media (SCM).
 
Mr
Scott Hessels, Associate Professor in SCM, will lead the Antarctica team. “We are setting off into the planet’s most remote landscapes, which are among the most fragile and endangered. The expedition will offer new insights into a sustainable future, and help the public better understand environmental issues,” he said.
 
Initiated and organised by SCM, CityU began inviting applications to participate in the expedition in September. Full-time undergraduate students of any major could apply on an individual basis, or team up across departments. Proposals were submitted, describing what would be collected, how it would be presented using new media (animation, gaming, installation or film), and how it would bring together science and media art. An exhibition next spring will showcase the outcomes of the project.
 
One hundred and thirty-five proposals involving nearly 300 students were received, and 13 of the proposals put forward by 29 students were recommended by an interdisciplinary panel of faculty reviewers. Twenty-three students were selected to go on the expedition to Antarctica while six students work from Hong Kong. They are from 16 different disciplines, including applied biology, applied chemistry, Asian and international studies, computer engineering, creative media, criminology, manufacturing engineering, marketing, and media and communication.
 
In preparation for the trip, the students are now receiving physical and first aid training, obtaining equipment, and modifying their research proposals.
 
Activities that the students have proposed to conduct in Antarctica during the expedition include tracking and measuring changes in the body temperature of penguins using thermal vision cameras and wind velocity indicators to learn how penguins adapt to their environment; studying how Antarctica plants such as lichens survive acute exposure to ultraviolet radiation in extreme environments; and examining physical properties of icebergs and the aurora.
 
“Going to Antarctica is like a dream come true for me. I think going to the ends of the earth and spending time learning about the place will be a life-changing experience. It is a wonderful chance for all of us to enrich our lives and grow into socially and environmentally sensitive human beings,” said Anantika Mehra, a student of Electronic and Communication Engineering.
 
“The trip will not only test our endurance, but will also be a test of our perseverance, mental strength and commitment, but with the support of CityU professors and classmates, we can all do it,” she said.
 
“I feel greatly honoured to have my proposal chosen by an international panel out of more than 100 entries, and I'm glad that I'll become one of the explorers on the expedition,” said Mani Wong Man-yi, a student of Manufacturing Systems Engineering.
 
“It is cool to explore Antarctica, the loneliest and coldest place on Earth, and to work on interdisciplinary projects together with fellow students from various departments and cultural backgrounds, just like the scientists and researchers who work in Antarctica. I will treasure the opportunity of this trip and help raise awareness of the need to preserve that last great wilderness on Earth,” she added

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