Students on Ice | Natural Heritage Building | 1740 Chemin Pink | Gatineau QC J9J 3N7 | | 1-866-336-6423



More Field Staff photos and biographies
will be posted soon!

Photographer, Videographer, Conservationist
& Outdoor Educator

Mike Beedell has 35 years of experience documenting remote locations of the planet. He has been exploring Antarctica for 12 years and the Arctic for 35 years.

His passion for the Polar regions has sculpted much of his career. His landscape and conservation photography has been exhibited internationally at World Expos, Olympic Games and at the United Nations. He is the author/photographer of the Canadian bestseller The Magnetic North. Mike has logged tens of thousands of kilometers by canoe, kayak, dog team and sailboat during his career. These experiences have been published in best-selling books, magazines and radio and film documentaries. 

Mike is the director of O Canada! Expeditions – a boutique travel company that immerses people in conservation awareness and unique experiences around the world. One of his greatest rewards is introducing newcomers to the rugged yet fragile parts of our planet that must be protected for future generations. 

To see Mike’s photographic work and projects go to



Bruce has been a teacher at the Grosse Pointe Public School system for 28 years. He has taught students in the elementary, middle, and high schools in various subjects. His bachelor’s degree is in education. He has an educational specialist degree and two master’s degrees in physiology/health science and school counseling.

Bruce enjoys facilitating student interaction with other cultures and people. By having students being engaged in various activities and unique experiences, Bruce believes students develop an appreciation for other cultures and people of the world. He feels honored and blessed to be a part of students’ lives by way of helping them grow and nurturing them to achieve their academic and personal goals in their lives.

This year he is very excited to be one of staff members on the Students on Ice Antarctic Youth Expedition 2011. He regards Antarctica as the most unique and important continent in the world. He has previously participated in another Students on Ice program through People to People to the Arctic and looks forward to reuniting with the amazing and energetic staff.

Bruce thoroughly enjoys traveling around the world and being actively involved in outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, hiking, climbing, snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, and golfing.


Family Physician

Dr. Brenda Brennan (MD) has been a family doctor for the past 21 years. She is presently working in a family practice in Osgoode, Ontario but has also lived and worked in Iqaluit, Nunavut in Canada’s Arctic as well as Calgary, Alberta and Lahr, Germany. Her work includes looking after people of all ages with a special interest in the care of the elderly. She has three grown daughters and a busy dog named Boomer.

She and her husband Terry, who will also be attending this Students on Ice adventure, enjoy traveling and learning about other cultures. They are honoured to be part of this amazing group of scientists, artists and educators and hope to learn much during this unique experience.


Family Physician

Dr. Terry Brennan (MD) is a family doctor in Osgoode, Ontario and teaches at the University of Ottawa in the Faculty of Medicine. His first encounter with the Arctic was in 1988 during his time in the military. He was involved in an Arctic survival course in what was then Spence Bay, NWT. More recently, Dr. Terry and his family lived in Iqaluit, Nunavut. During that time they were able to experience life through all the seasons in the far north.

He was privileged to act as medical support for the Students on Ice Arctic Youth Expedition 2010 and is very much looking forward to Antarctica 2011.

Ask him about his polar bear encounter.


Polar Naturalist & Historian

Born and raised in Sweden, Olle Carlsson was formerly a school teacher and professional jazz musician before embarking on a life of polar adventure, writing, photography, and education. For over twenty years Olle has been sharing the migration route of the Arctic tern - Arctic adventures in the summer, and Antarctic adventures in the winter.

His fascination in the Polar world is grounded on the integrity and beauty of these remote places, as well as the astounding adaptations for survival under harsh conditions that the wildlife has suffered. Our need for places largely unaffected by humans will not decrease, and it goes without saying that they promote a deep engagement in environmental questions.

With his colleague, Stefan Lungren, Olle has co-authored several books about the Poles, including the award-winning Antarctica - In the Interest of All Mankind and the popular Antarctica - A Souvenir Book for the 7th Continent. Olle lives in Sweden and still practices Jazz!


Emissions Expert

Howie Chong is the President of the Canadian Carbonzero Institute (CCI) and Founder of Carbonzero. A certified GHG emissions expert, Howie has been working with companies and organizations for nearly a decade in helping them assess and manage their environmental footprint, with over five years of experience in greenhouse gas emissions accounting, carbon markets and international climate policy. Howie has presented at international and Canadian conferences on climate change, carbon markets and climate policy and has served with several environmental organizations, including four years on the Board of the Sierra Club Canada. In 2008, Howie was named one of Canada’s Future Environmental Leaders by Green Living Magazine for his work as an entrepreneur in the new green economy. He holds a degree in environment and political science from McGill University.



Tony Dekker is a singer-songwriter from the Niagara Region of Ontario who is currently based in Toronto. He is best known as the leader of his Juno-nominated folk group “Great Lake Swimmers,” which thematically focuses on a connection to the landscape and finding spirituality in the natural world, and has recorded four albums to date. Along with extensive travels that include concerts in Europe, North America, Australia, and China, he has recently been part of the National Parks Project, where 52 musicians and filmmakers participated in creating music and film for the National Parks of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories; he was part of the group that explored Cape Breton’s Highlands National Park. In addition, he has been active with the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, part of the larger Waterkeeper Alliance, recording songs for their “Swim Drink Fish Music” digital music club. He has also teamed up with the Calgary Folk Music Festival and Winnipeg Folk Festival for youth mentorship programs in songwriting. The New York Times has described his music as “a wonderful atmosphere…minimalist well done” while Mojo (UK) has referred to it as “ambient Zen Americana.”


Conservation Biologist

Garry lives near the Gatineau River in Chelsea, Quebec and works for the Canadian Wildlife Service, where he manages the national and international migratory birds program and the listing of species at risk.

After a brief career in biotechnology, Garry began his life with wildlife when he came across an opportunity to travel to the Canadian Arctic for a month to assist on a seabird project on Coats Island in northern Hudson Bay. That summer inspired many years of Arctic work, gaining a Master’s degree studying the population dynamics of the Thick-billed Murre (the Arctic’s penguin), and subsequent work in the north with the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Because migratory birds go, literally, everywhere, much of Garry’s work time is currently devoted to figuring out how to achieve conservation for species that roam across Canada and then fly throughout the Americas or across the Atlantic or Pacific oceans during the northern winter. Working at continental and hemispheric scales offers interesting challenges when different governments and cultures must be considered.

This will be Garry’s sixth SOI expedition and his second to Antarctica. He’s looking forward to meeting old friends, making new ones, spying a few far-flung migrant birds from Canada and continuing to learn to identify southern species with the help of Santiago.

Base Commander
& Polar Historian

David Fletcher has spent the last 39 years in the polar regions, including 4 winters and 35 summers. He spent fifteen years with the British Antarctic Survey (B.A.S.) as a dog driver, Base Commander and Field Operations Manager.

David is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and was awarded the prestigious Polar Medal. He has also received the Fuchs medal from the British Antarctic Survey. David has participated on several Students on Ice expeditions as a polar educator.


More to come...

Architect & Visual Artist

Pablo Gamenara was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but spent most of his childhood in the south of his country in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. He has always been interested in nature, the nature of the things and how people feel when immersed in natural environments.

Pablo has developed his craft studying under the tutelage of Eduardo Nicolai, a Fuegian water colour artist, and in Buenos Aires with Guillermo Roux, an important Argentine artist. While exploring his interest in the human condition and our relationship with the environment, Pablo continued his studies in architecture, achieving his Architect designation in 2009. Today he practices architecture in Ushuaia.

Pablo has travelled to Antarctica on seven occasions, first in 2002, as a student with Student on Ice. He continues to be fascinated and inspired by the wildness of the white continent, its icescapes, enormous icebergs, the fog on its mountains, clear colours, huge scale and breathtaking beauty. Pablo’s identity is intricately connected to the environment he inhabits. He continues to look to the environment as teacher and guide as it offers him awe inspired perspective on life.

Educator & Researcher

Clare Glassco has been leading high school students on expeditions around the world since 2007. From Ecuador to Egypt, Clare has worked to provide transformative educational experiences for teenagers far away from their homes and comfort zones. A graduate of Canadian Outdoor Leadership Training on Vancouver Island, Clare’s belief in the need to reconnect students to the outdoors in order to sustain both the planet and future generations has led her to Students on Ice and the 2011 Antarctic youth expedition.

Clare is currently completing a Master’s thesis on the history of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program in Canada, a migrant labour scheme which has been in operation since 1966. In 2010, she received a Social Sciences Humanities Research Council fellowship to further her work.

Sonja Heinrich teaches marine biology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland (UK) where she also runs the Master in Marine Mammal Science programme. She is based at the renown Sea Mammal Research Unit which reflects her research interests in the furry and blubbery ocean predators. Sonja gained her PhD from St Andrews in 2006 for her work on sympatric ecology and conservation of coastal dolphins in southern Chile, holds a Masters in Marine Science degree from the University of Otago in New Zealand, and a general biology degree from the University of Cologne in Germany. Her research activities and work as guide/lecturer aboard expedition-style cruise ships have taken her all around the globe, with a notable preference for remote cool-temperate and polar regions. A keen explorer of ocean and mountain realms alike, Sonja tends to mimic the migration of the Arctic tern, with northern summers spent in Scotland and the Arctic, and northern winters at least partially in the southern hemisphere (teaching timetable permitting). Sonja has been visiting the Antarctic and subantarctic islands annually since 1998, and loves to share her passion for polar regions with students and general public alike. What better classroom setting could there be than amongst the ice and wildlife of Antarctica?


The environment has played a significant role for the Icelander, Eggert J. Hilmarsson, since his youth, being raised in a small remote fishing village in Iceland. He experienced the importance of the relationships between humans, nature and wildlife. There, Eggert experienced seabirds, seals, whales, and the value of fishing in coherence with nature, which developed his interests and passion for various outdoor activities, such as skiing, fly-fishing, hiking and diving. To explore his passions, in the last 20 years Eggert has travelled to 27 countries on 5 continents.

Eggert started his career as a lawyer at the office of the Director of Internal Revenue, which led him to the Ministry of Finance in Iceland. In 2000, he moved to Luxembourg to work as a legal counsel in the banking industry, where he is currently living with his family.

During the past years, Eggert has been engaged in working with youth as ski coach and instructor for a group of 12 to 18 year olds, which includes guiding and training them in the snowy mountains of the European Alps.


Santiago Imberti was born and raised in Patagonia, Argentina, which meant that wilderness was only a short step from his front door. A long lasting love for nature was the logical consequence of the years he lived there.

Santiago obtained a degree in tourism and ornithology, which allowed him to combine his love for nature and the outdoors with his work as a bird-watching and fly-fishing mountain guide. During the off-season Santiago continues his ornithology research focusing his attention on the birds of Patagonia and Bolivia. He also uses this time as an opportunity to travel around the world bush walking and birding, studying different bird communities and their surrounding environments. Santiago photographs and writes about the places he visits and his experiences as a guide, trying to convey in words and pictures some sense of the magic of nature. He has traveled to Antarctica many times. His articles and stories have been published in scientific journals and popular travel magazines.


Jeff Kavanaugh is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta. In his research into the flow and dynamics of glaciers he employs a variety of field techniques, including borehole studies of basal hydrological and mechanical conditions, GPS measurements of surface flow rates, and ice-penetrating radar surveys of ice thickness. Jeffrey then uses data collected in the field to constrain computer models he develops to investigate the flow of these fascinating “rivers of ice“.

His research has taken him to the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, Arctic Canadas Devon Island, the Canadian Rockies, and Yukons St. Elias Mountains.

Educator, Writer & Consultant

Elin Kelsey is passionate about facilitating people’s experiences and stories about the environment through writing, science and other creative means. She is the acclaimed author of natural history and environmental books for adults and children, including Watching Giants: The Secret Lives of Whales and Not Your Typical Book About the Environment - a hopeful book about the environment for kids. Deeply committed to the marine environment, she works with a coalition of 40 aquariums engaged in communicating climate change and the oceans. She wrote the scientific brief that resulted in the establishment of the world’s largest marine reserve in 2009. 

Elin has led tours to the Canadian Arctic, India, Nepal, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Micronesia and is eager to gather collective impressions of Antarctica through people on this expedition in ways that shift environmental messages beyond “doom and gloom” towards hope and resilience, She has directed exhibit and education programs at the Calgary Zoo, Vancouver Aquarium, and the Canadian Museum of Nature and now consults with international environmental organizations such as the World Conservation Union, Pew Ocean Legacy and Conservation International. Elin is an adjunct professor at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC and a Visiting Scholar at James Cook University in Australia. She spends most of her time trying to live a “one planet” life –and get the laundry folded – at her home in Pacific Grove, California. You can see more about Elin at

Educator, Advocate & Researcher


Lacia Kinnear is the Manager of the Northern Climate ExChange (NCE) with the Yukon Research Center at Yukon College. Much of her professional career has involved northern community driven research and the development of research capacity in the area of climate change. Before heading north, Lacia worked as the Director of Environmental Education for the Sierra Club of Canada – Atlantic Chapter, developing educational programs.

Lacia believes that experiential education is an invaluable tool for understanding, decision making and leadership in a world with endless environmental and socio-economic change.

Lacia has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geography from the University of Guelph. She completed a Masters of Environmental Studies Degree from the School for Resource and Environmental Studies at Dalhousie University.

Lacia has a great appreciation for the North; including the ecological, social and cultural vitality that thrives in the face of change. Lacia lives a very active lifestyle and enjoys all that the North has to offer including x-country skiing, mountain biking, skijoring and canoeing.


Becky Mearns is originally from Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung), Nunavut and is currently residing in Ottawa, ON where she is attending Carleton University. Becky obtained a BA Honours majoring in Sociology with a double minor in Aboriginal Studies and Law.  She is now working towards a MA in Geography with a research focus on Inuit knowledge transfer between Elders and Youth at land-based camps.

Becky’s interest in Inuit knowledge in research brought her to Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami where she currently works part time as a researcher in Inuit Qaujisarvingat: The Inuit Knowledge Centre. Inuit Qaujisarvingat envisions a world in which Inuit and Inuit knowledge advance sustainable Arctic science and policy. Therefore, focussing on efforts to ensure an increasingly active role for Inuit in research that leads to the generation of innovative knowledge for improved research, science and policy making within a Canadian, circumpolar and global context. Becky hopes that through furthering her education and in working with Inuit Qaujisarvingat that she can aid in promoting research in a model based on Inuit knowledge and world-views.

Biologist & Videographer

Pascale Otis first started working in the polar regions in 2000 when she was a student at Laval University studying cold adaptations in Greater Snow Geese (that’s when she was nicknamed Mother Goose!). After graduating with a Masters in Biology, she continued her research on polar species at McMurdo station in Antarctica before coming back to Canada to study the physiological response of humans exposed to extreme environments. Pascale has always loved traveling and discovering new places. Her passion for adventure led her to spend 15 months on a sailboat that wintered on the Antarctic Peninsula (Antarctic Mission – Sedna IV). Upon returning from the Ice, she then crossed the South Pacific Ocean on a smaller sailboat where she filmed and documented the impacts of environmental changes on many tropical islands. Her goal as a biologist is to share knowledge by making science accessible to the general public.


Fredda Payne retired from the National Association of Social Workers after having served for more than 20 years. For the past 15 years Fredda has been a People to People Area Director for the Maryland and DC area. Throughout her tenure with PTP, she has worked with hundreds of students and has joyfully and proudly watched them grow into fine young men and women.

Fedda’s international travel started when she was a junior in high school when she went to Madrid, Spain, and she has been traveling since that time. When Fredda finished college, she received a Fulbright fellowship to study at the Federal University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and through that experience she visited every country in South America.

Fredda earned her doctorate in Urban Higher Education, a master’s in Management and Supervision, and a master’s in Library and Information Science. Her passions are international travel, training teachers and students, reading, dancing, walking, bowling, and roller skating. Fredda is married to Michael, a mother of three adult children, and a proud grandmother of five grandchildren. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Jack and Jill Associates, Public Members of the Foreign Service, and serves on the East County (Montgomery County, MD) Citizens’ Advisory Board. She also teaches English Fundamentals and English to speakers of other languages at the University of the District of Columbia. As a consultant with the Department of State, she serves on promotion boards reviewing evaluation records of Foreign Service officers to recommend promotion to the senior ranks.

Fredda experiences true joy in watching students revel in international, educational, and cultural experiences. When this happens, Fredda believes students return home changed – with different perspectives and a greater appreciation for the world and their positions in it.

Environmental Scientist & Sailor

Prior to taking to a life at sea in the high latitudes, Grant Redvers worked as a scientist in New Zealand and at Scott Base in Antarctica. He has a master’s degree in environmental science, and is a qualified yacht skipper and dive master.

In the early 2000s he sailed from New Zealand to Antarctica and South Georgia Island on a 45ft yacht for mixed climbing and glaciology research expeditions. After sailing back to NZ through the Pacific Islands he then joined Tara Expeditions. Aboard Tara he completed a number of expeditions to Antarctica, South Georgia and Patagonia, supporting a diverse range of research, natural history and adventure projects, before setting a course for the Arctic.

The last project on Tara took Grant to the Arctic Ocean for almost 2 years, from 2006 – 2008, as the leader of an expedition to study climate change as part of the International Polar Year. He then sailed to the west coast of Greenland to support glaciology research projects, and has just published a book about the Tara Arctic mission.


Before beginning her adventure by tracking to the Base camp Everest and climbing Kilimanjaro, Sima has been an academic in linguistics. She earned a BA and MA in Linguistics from Simon Fraser University, British Columbia, Canada. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Translation Studies at the University of Ottawa.
Being passionate about languages and interested in contributing something to the future, she along with her husband went to Central America and Africa. Sima ended up staying in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia working with English teachers on using teaching methods based on local resources.

The closest she got to the poles was her 10-day training, in Iqaluit, Nunavut, where for the first time she was in a polar region.

In 2008, Sima and her husband Arnold Witzig formed the S. and A. Inspiration Foundation. Rather than run projects directly themselves, they aim to inspire and support other teams to realize their own ideas. Two years later, based on their experiences in the developing world they decided:

• To further support a project that Sima personally initiated in Ethiopia. Instead of just building schools, she developed a program to improve teachers' English skills and teaching practices. A BC-based NGO adopted the program and works independently with Ethiopian staff. They have expanded to work at the Teachers’ College level and include librarians.
• To concentrate other activities of the foundation in Canada’s North, which have led to the “Future of the Arctic Prize” project.

Senior Advisor, International Development

Born in France, Danièle began travelling the world with her family at the age of 4. She completed her Masters in Economics with a specialization in the analysis of developing countries before moving to Canada where she completed an MBA and worked in international development for 26 years. Living her passion and encouraging others to find theirs, working internationally gave her the opportunity to learn from others, educate, and influence global issues particularly related to environment and health. Living abroad, travelling to more than 43 countries, and representing Canada on five UN executive boards, she focused on improving the lives of the poor, mothers, children, farmers, victims of natural disasters, and refugees.

Committed to environmental protection since childhood, she has reduced her ecological footprint and has relied exclusively on public transportation since 1994. Not only does she live in a LEED Platinum-certified apartment building, she also leads its environmental committee and is designing her environmentally-friendly off-grid home.

Her passion for promoting holistic health has led her to become a practitioner of both Reiki and Ayurveda. She also coaches and mentors young professionals. Since 1981, she has served on the Executive Board of various Community Health Centres. Danièle is now setting up her own private foundation for the Education of Inuit women.

This expedition is an extension of her commitment to international development. Enthusiastic, compassionate, creative, culturally sensitive, a good communicator and development ambassador, she is eager to learn, share her experience, foster the next generation’s talents and contribute to their empowerment. Supporting youth as environmental ambassadors will be her lasting contribution

Polar Guide & Educator

Alex Taylor’s Antarctic career kicked off in 1992 when he was hired by the British Antarctic Survey as a polar guide for a glaciology project in the shadow of Mt. Vinson. This led to dozens of other expeditions and soon to leading expeditions in the High Canadian Arctic. A love of the polar region’s incredible landscapes, wildlife, history and other-worldly experiences keeps him coming back to these remote locations year after year.
More than 15 seasons south in Antarctica have afforded Alex the privilege of visiting many parts of the continent working in support of science projects for the British Antarctic Survey and the United States Antarctic Program. He has also provided technical and safety support for television and films down south. Most notable were the two ship-based expeditions to film the award-winning feature Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure.
Alex has a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Calgary, specializing in Outdoor Pursuits and Geography. He has climbed and traveled all over the world but the Canadian Rockies and the Antarctic remain his favourite places on the planet.
Alex’s home base is in Canmore, Alberta. He has been working in the Rocky Mountain National Parks for over 27 years. His eclectic work life has always been focused on the wild outdoors and has included jobs as a fire fighter, wildlife technician, weather station specialist, still photographer and videographer, to name a few. When not in Antarctica, Alex works as a human-wildlife conflict specialist for Parks Canada in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks.

Social Entrepreneur

Arnold Witzig was born in 1949 in Uhwiesen, Switzerland, and raised in modest circumstances on a small family farm. He graduated as an architect in 1970 at Zürcher Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften.

After working on two large unsuccessful projects, Arnold analyzed the mistakes of the work flow and devised a radical new planning process. He learned that that – especially for complex industrial projects – economic, environmental, architectural, technical and social needs have to be integrated in order to achieve success. Arnold has carried out this vision by bringing together all the necessary specialists from different areas into a new business unit that focused on the print and media industry to create a unique and comprehensive service.

Over a period of 18 years, the company that emerged – the IE Engineering Group ( – implemented the same business strategy in the plastics, food, life- science and later high tech industries. From its base in Zurich, IE expanded to Munich, Geneva, Leipzig and later Frankfurt.

Since moving to Canada Arnold has climbed the Seven Summits, skied across Greenland, to the North Pole, and reached the South Pole on the Messner route. It wasn't long before he added scuba diving to his repertoire of outdoor pursuits.

Large Format Photographer

Arnold Zageris, a retired biology teacher, specializes in large format photography to capture the wondrous geological formations and landscapes of Newfoundland and Labrador by using a 4x5 view camera. His crisp and colourful rock portraits are completely unaltered, which he attributes to waiting for the right light and finding the best angle to complete his vision. His photographs explore the magnificent contrast between the grandeurs of nature’s open spaces and the delicate form and texture of isolated rock formations. His work is in the collection of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, a branch of the National Gallery of Canada and he has exhibited his photographs across Canada.

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Natural Heritage Building
1740 chemin Pink
Gatineau, QC J9J 3N7