Jodi Gustafson

'Canterbury’s Gateway Antarctica research centre was a great pull for me to study at UC...'

  • Jodi Gustafson

Exchange Student

Certificate of Proficiency (Science)

Research Assistant, Council of Managers of National Antarctic Programs (COMNAP)

Jodi’s upbringing in the harsh climate of Yukon in Canada exposed her to a wide range of conservation issues caring for the native wildlife.

‘My dad’s career as a Conservation Officer meant we often had orphaned or injured wildlife, such as orphaned moose calves, broken-winged trumpeter swans, an orphaned baby beaver and an oil-spill victim mallard duck in our backyard to care for until rehabilitated. Caring for wildlife instilled within me a passion to protect them and their habitat. As I grew older and became more aware of the large environmental footprint many industries leave in the north, my motivation to dedicate my career to environmental protection and management began.’

Jodi spent the next few years discovering different aspects of environmental issues through a number of work experiences, including working for the Yukon Fish and Game Association and observing population decline in Chinook salmon and working in the House of Commons as a Page during study at the University of Ottawa.

‘In Ottawa I realized that combining my passion for polar environments and motivation to have a far-reaching impact could be possible through environmental studies with the goal of focusing on policy in the future,’ she says.

As part of her Bachelor of Science in Global Resource Systems specialising in Circumpolar Environment at the University of British Columbia, Jodi has taken her passions to a global scale, participating in exchange programmes to universities around Canada as well as in Spain, Finland, Iceland and now New Zealand.

‘My degree has taken me all around the world, to a total of six universities in four different countries,’ she says. ‘The opportunity to gain global insight and perspective into environmental management has been invaluable. The opportunity to learn from my professors and classmates of various cultural backgrounds has been a truly amazing learning opportunity.’

One particular highlight was her creation of a documentary about climate change in the Herschel Island region of the northern Yukon which earned her the 2014 Canadian Youth Environmental Leadership Award, encouraging her to look into future film-making.

The opportunity to study at UC’s Gateway Antarctica programme was something Jodi couldn’t miss, originally attending through the Study Abroad programme and returning as an exchange student through the University of British Columbia.

‘Canterbury’s Gateway Antarctica research centre was a great pull for me to study at UC, as there are few other English speaking institutions in the world where I could take the Antarctic courses which I have completed here. Additionally, as an avid outdoor enthusiast, studying between the Southern Alps and the ocean is an absolute dream.

‘This degree program has been extremely interdisciplinary, covering everything from polar ecology to hazards and disaster management courses.’

Jodi has made the most of her time at UC. She has received an invitation to the International Golden Key Honour Society for academic success and is currently working as a research assistant at COMNAP assisting in a number of different projects related to international scientific cooperation in Antarctica.

Jodi has found New Zealand and UC a wonderful addition to her list of global experiences and plans to stay for another year after graduating.

‘I have majorly enjoyed my time as a UC student and my time in New Zealand as an international student. I would recommend studying here to anyone. Living in New Zealand is just an absolute dream with postcard-like hiking and biking opportunities a stone’s throw away at all times! Travelling, tramping or kayaking through Abel Tasman National Park, Kaikoura, Central Otago and more have been some of the best memories of my life. Furthermore, as a person passionate for all things polar, living in Christchurch, a major Antarctic gateway city, has been an incredible opportunity to attend Antarctica-related events.’

Stefanie Tibbotts

Stefanie Tibbotts

'The courses are interesting, the lecturers are great and always willing to help, and the UCSA organises wicked events...'

Berton Panjaitan

Berton Panjaitan

'It is a privilege for me to mix with other students in the department who have such a diverse range of disciplines...'