Winners of WSC: People in Science

Winning image: Polar scientific diver at a French Antarctic base.
Author: Erwan Amice from France

The following post list the winners of WSC 2017.

Comment from the jury: The exploration of the new frontier of knowledge and the role of teamwork are summarized in this beautiful image. The picture embodies the theme of scientific research in Antarctica, which is present in many of the best international finalists. This concept represents the never-ending strive for new uncharted territories of knowledge. Compared to the other images, this one goes a step further exploring the environment also under the surface, thus adding an additional step. The lack of a recognizable face is common also in other images and can be seen as a metaphor for the unknown work that unnamed scientists perform every day. In this case, this lack of recognition is, however, a consequence of the equipment and the action. Even if we don’t see the face of the diver, we feel however the teamwork, represented by the rope and the perfect tunnel the team had to build to dive under the ice layers. We feel the expertise of the other colleague with the camera who is also involved in the mission and being underwater cannot be perceived as a simple bystander.

Comment from the author: I am an engineer at CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) in the Marine Environmental Sciences Laboratory, that is part of the European University Institute of the Sea in Brest.
I am the manager of Marine facilities and scientific diving service. I coordinate all scientific underwater sampling and the implementation of instrumentation along the French coast and as needed elsewhere (tropics, temperate or polar regions); I also manage the schedule of both of IUEM’s boats. With an academic background in biology, followed by a career in the Navy as a bomb disposal expert diver, I have been employed as a scientific diver by the CNRS since 2002. My twin passions for photography and diving have naturally led me to become a specialist in underwater photography. My photographs have been used in numerous exhibitions and publications. To date, I have completed fifteen polar scientific dive missions, Arctic and Antarctic.
This image of a scientific diver crossing an ice well was made on the French polar base of Dumont D’Urville in Adelie Land in Antarctica. For several years the pack ice did not give up during the austral summer, for various reasons this sea ice has accumulated, generating thicknesses of more than 3 m. Thus, to access the sampling sites provided by our protocols, it was necessary to drill the ice in the manner of oil drilling to access the open water. This passage of perfectly cylindrical sea ice and marked by a lifeline created a little anxiety for the diver during the first immersion. However, this has created an underwater atmosphere of the most graphic and original.


The scientist Camila Bravo registers and rings a Striped Woodpecker (Veniliornis lignarius) as part of the Long-term Bird Monitoring Study at Senda Darwin Biological Station. Author: Pgarridosz from Chile.


Robotics laboratories, UCL, Louvain-la-Neuve. Author: Jacky Delorme from Belgium.


Ester Oras, a senior researcher in archaeology and chemistry, pulling out a tooth from the boy-mummy from the collections of the University of Tartu Art Museum. The tooth allowed to confirm the authenticity of the mummy via radiocarbon dating and aDNA analysis. Author: Mait Metspalu from Estonia.


Weather observations by using an automatic station at a camp on the foot of Mount Erebus (Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica). Author: Tsy1980 from Russia.


Inspecting the SuperDARN radar antenna installed at the Concordia research station, Antarctica. Author: Paride Legovini from Italy.


A student with previously cooled hands playing with methane bubbles. Author: Scohen2017 from Ireland.

Images were published under CC BY 4.0 or CC BY-SA 4.0 licenses.