Dr Steph McLennan is an Antarctic geoscientist at Geoscience Australia. Her research focuses on the impacts of people on fragile ice-free landscapes in Antarctica. By using field observations, rock samples, drones, and satellite imagery, she pieces together the geological history of previously ice-covered landscapes to understand how they formed and predict how the environment will react to impacts like walking tracks, infrastructure development, and climate change. She was awarded a PhD in environmental geoscience from the University of Adelaide and moved to Canberra in 2015. In 2019, she was named as one of 60 Superstars of STEM, a national program aimed at challenging gender stereotypes in science, technology, engineering, and maths by giving women in STEM greater visibility.
I’ve spent the last two summers in Antarctica studying an area known as the Vestfold Hills, near Australia’s Davis Station. It’s a beautiful place but conditions can change quickly so you learn to be adaptable and decisive.
Antarctic fieldwork is physically intensive but most of the year I’m office based. I love the walking trails around Canberra and what an active city we are. You can often find me walking up Mt Ainslie, wandering along Molonglo Gorge, or bouldering at Bloc Haus.
My mum is a teacher-librarian so I grew up in libraries and around books. Some of my favourite reads this year include Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman, The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre, and Origins by Lewis Dartnell.
I find cooking a great way to unwind and right now it’s about the closest I can get to international travel. Some of my favourite cookbook authors include the Monday Morning Cooking Club, Hetty McKinnon, Kylie Kwong, and Benjamin Cooper.
I’ve been involved with the Rotaract Club of Canberra now for a few years and it’s been a fantastic way to meet new people and give back. We fundraise and run events to support the local Canberra community and international initiatives and have a great time along the way.
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