Monday 26 October 2015

Dr Nathan Smith

Expedition image from 2041 International Antarctic Expedition

The University of Northampton’s Dr Nathan Smith will be enduring freezing temperatures in the name of extreme research, when he joins an international expedition to the Antarctic next March.

Nathan, a Lecturer in Sports Psychology, will be embarking on the ‘2041 International Antarctic Expedition (IAE)’, which will set sail from the Argentinian port of Ushuaia – a town nicknamed ‘the end of the world’. The 24 expedition members will spend more than two weeks together, in temperatures as low as -25C.

The expedition will feature an international cohort of individuals who are all participating in the ‘Leadership on the Edge’ programme, a scheme devised by world-renowned adventurer Robert Swann.

The programme aims to educate future world leaders on the benefits of protecting the natural world, and the importance of developing resilient people and communities. Knowing how people from diverse backgrounds will respond to such extreme, isolated and confined situations is crucial for safe and successful journeys into extreme environments. Such information will become increasingly important as the opportunity to travel to remote parts of the Earth – and beyond – becomes more accessible to more people.

As part of the expedition, Dr Smith will be conducting research into how the expedition members cope with the extreme cold and isolation of the frozen south.

Dr Smith explained: “It will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and a fascinating source of research. This expedition brings together people from around the world, many of whom have never been out of the country they live in. The idea is to see how they perform in such an extreme and isolated environment – we’ll be looking at their psychology in extreme conditions.”

The three main scientific objectives of the expedition are: to examine how exposure to extreme conditions relates to post-expedition adjustment to ‘normal’ life; to explore the role of personality and personal values when coping with stress in extreme, isolated and confined conditions; and to observe group cohesion and performance in a culturally-diverse expedition group.

“I’ll be observing the others and taking notes, and there’s a questionnaire before and after the expedition,” Dr Smith added. “I’ve been on a few mini-expeditions myself, but nothing like this. In many ways, I’m as naive as them!”

Dr Smith will be sharing his research in a video diary and daily blog, before, during and after the expedition. He is also bidding for research funding for the trip and seeking sponsorship from local businesses and individuals. To sponsor Nathan, visit his Indiegogo page. For further information contact Nathan.smith@northampton.ac.uk

Note: Iceberg image courtesy of the 2041 International Antarctic Expedition. Also pictured, Dr Nathan Smith.

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