IMAS Antarctic researcher wins prestigious Fellowship to study in the US

A love of Earth sciences has seen Mika Bighin (BMarAntScHons ’21, BPhil ’21) go back in time to answer future climate questions...

An IMAS graduate has won a prestigious Quad Fellowship to investigate the historic impacts of climate change on glacial melting in Antarctica.

Mika Bighin has arrived in the United States to take up the PhD opportunity, driven by a passion for Earth sciences inspired by the natural beauty of her home state, Tasmania, where she completed a Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science with Honours.

Her degree at IMAS included a year of exchange in Japan, which confirmed for her the value of international studies, and encouraged Mika to relocate to the University of Massachusetts Lowell to continue expanding her perspective and networks.

Mika’s research on Earth’s past response to climate variability is key to anticipating future impacts of climate change at both ecosystem and community scales.

Mika said it was an honour to be awarded a 2023 Quad Fellowship, awarded to researchers and innovators from Australia, India, Japan and the United States to undertake a graduate degree in the US.

“This will be a great support to my PhD program, and allow me more flexibility to focus on my research,” Mika said.

“In my paleoscience career, I hope to address the issue of climate change and the impacts that it will have, by looking at past climate. My aim is that my research will contribute to increasing understanding of the Earth’s climate systems, and what changes we can expect for the future.

“Through this, I want my work to help and inspire society to prepare and act on climatic and environmental issues.

“IMAS was a great place to study. My Bachelor's degree gave me a broad and foundational education, and my Honours year allowed me to deepen my knowledge and get real-world research experience that has prepared me for the challenge of a PhD.

“A highlight of working and studying at IMAS was the friendly, supportive and experienced staff and faculty. Everyone is very approachable and happy to help, which really enhanced my time there. The location of Tasmania also was perfect to connect to nature to refresh and become inspired.”

The Quad Fellowships are an initiative of the Quad partners – the governments of Australia, Japan, India and the United States – through the philanthropy group Schmidt Futures. They aim to empower exceptional engineering, mathematics, science, and technology graduate students to advance research and innovation.

The goal is to create positive social impact throughout the careers of the fellowship recipients by providing scholarships, immersive and inspiring events, mentorship and career-advancing programming, and cross-cultural exchange opportunities.

This article has been republished from the UTAS Alumni Magazine, IMPACT , Issue 54 2023

Published 14 February 2023

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
14 February, 2023