Funded by Bill Gates... My PhD in Polar Studies
Thanks to all of you who participated in last week's game to guess my PhD topic. There were 2 people who managed to guess it right in one go, I'm seriously impressed.
Today, the news was officially announced on the Cambridge University website. So I'm excited to finally tell you what field my PhD will be in ... [imagine a slow, tension-building drum roll] ... Polar Studies!
Nope, not Polish studies. Polar studies. As in, studies of the Arctic and Antarctic. I will be using my signature sonic methods, including podcasting and soundscaping (recording sonic landscapes), to investigate Antarctic futures in the context of the climate crisis.
Read an excerpt from Cambridge Uni's announcement here:
Funded by the Gates Foundation
What makes all this even more special is that my PhD will be funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, through a Gates Cambridge scholarship. This is the super scary interview I had a few weeks ago... It's one of the most prestigious and selective scholarships in the world, and focuses on looking for academically excellent leaders committed to improving the lives of others. I cannot wait to join this year's cohort of 79 purpose-driven researchers in October.
Remember what I wrote last week about constantly rewriting my bio? Well, to read my drastically revised bio for my new identity as an Antarctic researcher, please click on the button below:
Becoming a Polar Scientist
For me, this new PhD move is the absolute pinnacle of the most epic future I am currently able to envision for myself. Many things had to happen for me to even begin to start dreaming about becoming a polar researcher. First, I had to fall in love with this continent back in 2014. Next, I had to grow more and more obsessed with this 'empty, white, silent' space. I didn't know at the time that polar research was possible for me because I thought this was purely for natural scientists. So I looked for other ways to return there. Fun fact: when I tried to become a sailor for some time, it's because the ship I was sailing with made annual trips to Antarctica. The sailor path wasn't meant for me, but I never gave up on the dream. I simply looked for other ways to make it a reality.
Last summer I was experiencing *yet another* existential crisis (a topic I will pin for a future article), during which I wondered about 'what to do with my life'. I spent a week camping on a remote beach in Crete and did lots of meditating, day dreaming and journaling. I made a list of the most epic projects I could possibly imagine for myself. At the top of that list was 'make a podcast about Antarctica'. It seemed like almost impossible, because it's very expensive to travel to Antarctica and difficult to do fieldwork there. But I had a strong vision and began to think of ways to make this possible.
So when I found out it was possible to do a PhD in Polar Studies as a social scientist at Cambridge University, all puzzle pieces fell into place. I still remember the day this happened. I was sitting in a cafe in Manchester in October 2021 (I was on my UK tour with my data music album). I'd been journaling and was suddenly overcome by one of the most intense rushes of inspiration I've ever experienced. It was such a strong burst of energy flowing through every cell of my body that I couldn't possibly stay seated. I spent the rest of the day 'sightseeing' in Manchester but literally don't remember a single thing I saw. I was floating on a cloud of happiness, completely blinded by the light of all this clarity.
Moral of the story?
There are many. But if I could emphasize one take-away from this article, it is to dream big. It's super cliche but it's so so valuable when you really get the importance of this. The only thing standing in the way between you and the most epic version of your future is yourself. Oftentimes, when we make lists of possible projects, we shoot down our own ideas before they even make it to the paper. We think 'well, that's not possible, so I'm not even gonna write it down'. Or we think: 'who am I to even think I could possibly do this?'.
This is why I spend lots of time with my coachees undoing this constant blocking of your wildest dreams. It takes time to get yourself to speak your biggest ambitions into existence, because it feels scary or too 'unrealistic'. I get it. But, my goodness, the reward is huge when you get out of your own way. Because you really can accomplish so many epic things.
If you want to discover your own crazy, scary and insanely wild dreams, do get in touch. Together, we'll get you unblocked. We'll get you to push through the fears and achieve things you couldn't possible believe were possible today. If you know it's time to level up, then don't wait another day. Apply for 1-1 coaching asap.
Once I start my PhD after the summer, my availability for coaching will drastically go down (which also means prices will likely go up...). So what are you waiting for?
PS. For those of you who participated in last week's game, look for my mentions of Antarctica on the 'about page' of my website. I wasn't kidding when I referred to my trip to the Antarctic at age 18 as a 'life-changing' experience. Although I could've never foreseen at the time that I would do a PhD on this region 8 years later, back then I already sensed that this trip would have a lasting impact on me. Above is a picture of me on that visit...