Victoria Metcalf

Dr Victoria Metcalf is a marine biologist and former Lecturer in Genetics at Lincoln University. She is currently the National Coordinator of the Participatory Science Platform, Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Advisor. Victoria is mad keen on researching fish and shellfish. She has a PhD in biochemistry and has always been drawn to non-mammalian species because she finds them so incredibly interesting. She has a particular love of cold places and most of her research is on Antarctic marine life although she has studied New Zealand marine species too. Victoria is on Twitter @VicMetcalf_NZ

Basking in the conference afterglow or swansong? - Ice Doctor

Sep 11, 2014

Conferences are seen as one of the few remaining perks of a scientist’s life. A chance to step away from academia and to travel, even if only out of one’s earthquake ravaged home city. Sometimes though, as much as they energise and present opportunities to reconnect with the scientific community, conferences can be a harsh reminder of just what fates may await those who choose science. Part 1: Insight into some of what scientists do A couple of weeks ago saw me and more than 900 other Antarctic scientists converge on the Auckland CBD to attend the 2014 Scientific Committee on Antarctic Science (SCAR) Open Science Conference (OSC). I was one of a handful of tweeps, who live tweeted the entire conference- thousands … Read More

A flurry of Antarctic scientists - Ice Doctor

Aug 22, 2014

Antarctic scientist gets close to study subject, a Weddell seal. Antarctic scientists tend to feel passionate about their subject areas. For those of you living in Auckland, New Zealand, happily going about your daily lives you might be blissfully unaware that approximately 1000 Antarctic scientists are currently beginning to infiltrate the city. Think of them like a flurry of snowflakes chaotically dashing between talks and workshops in the CBD discussing everything that encompasses Antarctic science, which is an incredibly broad array of topics. In fact, Antarctic science could in reality mean global science as much of the science conducted on the ice has global implications. A common theme for a lot of the science we do is the umbrella of climate change, but that’s certainly not all. From understanding what happens out in space through to … Read More

Sensationalising science: sometimes behind the sizzle is just fizzle - Ice Doctor

Jul 25, 2014

If we believe the headlines we might expect to see aliens waving at us via telescopes within 20 years. How much harm does the sensationalism of science do? Image Source: Wikimedia Commons http://science1.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast07sep_2/ Accompanying the increasing permeation of science news into mainstream media, there’s an explosion of popular science media sites such as IFLScience. Should we expect these dedicated science news sites to adhere to accurate portrayal of the science, rather than falling victim to the widespread sensationalism of science found elsewhere? I love science. Science I feel most of the time, actually courses through my veins, contributing to my being, inextricably a part of me. Of course I readily admit, that’s probably being a little dramatic and I certainly can’t do a controlled and statistically robust experiment to prove this. Possibly though, even more than … Read More

Frozen Friday Fab Four #6 The importance of basic science - Ice Doctor

May 30, 2014

Four of the Antarctic or anything else headlines/social media bits that have grabbed my attention this week. Remarkably it looks like the diminutive Kiwi is the closest living relative of the extinct elephant bird. Image source: Wikimedia Commons uploaded by Glen Stewart. The importance of basic science 1. As a scientist I actually love it when what we think we know gets turned on its head. Such revelations are exhilarating and to me are the surest sign that scientific endeavours when conducted appropriately can result in the real advancement of knowledge. This is in contrast to much science that gets conducted today- affirmation of what is already known, the result of targeted funding schemes and a variety of other factors to do with the shifting sands surrounding how science is conducted and supported. And so it is as we … Read More

Frozen Friday Fab Four #5 - Ice Doctor

May 23, 2014

Four of the Antarctic or anything else headlines/social media bits that have grabbed my attention this week(ish). Large glaciers are in irreversible decline signalling the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet more rapidly than predicted. Sea levels will rise as a result. Image credit: Victoria Metcalf 1. Although it may have been overshadowed somewhat by the elevator bust-up between Solange Knowles and Jay-Z, far more important news has been floating about. The release of two papers (here and here) using different methods provide perhaps the firmest evidence we have that global warming is well and truly upon us and there is no looking back. The papers show that six large glaciers in Antarctica are in a state of irreversible … Read More

Frozen Friday Fab Four #4 - Ice Doctor

May 02, 2014

After a break with a couple of Friday holidays we’re back. Four of the Antarctic or anything else headlines/social media bits that have grabbed my attention this week(ish).   Access to icebreakers is essential for polar research. 1. Woohoo for something heartening happening in science. UK polar science is set to get a huge boost with the ordering of a 200 million pound icebreaker that will be one of the biggest and most capable polar research vessels in the world. It won’t be ready until 2019  but when it is it will be packed full of features: flash labs, a helipad, cranes, as well as having the ability to deploy a whole range of survey and sampling gear and subs. It will head to both poles for scientific research. Who is funding this? The UK government’s capital investment … Read More

All abuzz about a new way to get a buzz on: the Palcohol debacle - Ice Doctor

Apr 27, 2014

Will powdered alcohol if it becomes available be used sensibly or become just another societal problem? Image source: Wikimedia Commons uploaded by Jodie Veitch In the last week media and social media alike have been buzzing about the potential release of powdered alcohol named Palcohol by a US Arizona-based company Lipsmark. I got to chat about whether powdered alcohol is possible and whether it’s a good thing to be considering consuming on George FM Breakfast with Clarke Gayford and Aroha Harawira. What’s the Palcohol story? It’s an intriguing story, complete with twists and turns and backtracking and the media cacophony all started because of a blog post! Palcohol’s powder found itself with unexpected early and possibly unwanted publicity when the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax … Read More

Defecating dogs do it with direction - Ice Doctor

Apr 15, 2014

All that fussing around before they defecate may bemuse dog owners but it seems it’s about aligning N-S. Source: Wikimedia Commons, uploaded by Zoidy. And why this research is unlikely to get funded in New Zealand Last week I got to briefly talk science on George FM Breakfast. The invitation came care of my friend Clarke Gayford, the new George FM Breakfast co-host. I taught Clarke to ice fish in Antarctica (you can see our full escapades here) and perhaps as payback for making him occasionally take his gloves off in the great icy outdoors, he sent me this link to discuss what I thought about a particular item in the link: #5 Dogs use an … Read More

Frozen Friday Fab Four #3 - Ice Doctor

Apr 11, 2014

Four of the Antarctic or anything else headlines/social media bits that have grabbed my attention this week. The Royals are probably celebrating on Macquarie now that it is pest free.   1. The definite hoorah moment this week was hearing the news that Macquarie Island (the Australian subAntarctic island south of New Zealand) is now pest free after a lengthy and difficult seven year long battle. Macquarie Island is a magnificent World Heritage Area with unique subantarctic plants and a wide array (despite extensive colonial exploitation) of megafauna, including a number of penguin, seal and seal lion species. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit it several times and time there rates as some of my best wildlife experiences ever- think a baby elephant seal climbing all over me, cheeky king penguins being so inquisitive as to … Read More

Frozen Friday Fab Four #2 - Ice Doctor

Apr 08, 2014

Four of the Antarctic or anything else headlines/social media bits that have grabbed my attention this week. A double fracture in my daughter’s wrist followed by two mystery allergic reactions and a stomach bug for all means it’s a little past Friday, but we’ll just have to roll with it and temporarily suspend belief. Don’t do that with the science stuff below though. It’s worth reading.   1. The biggest news that came out this last week from my perspective is the latest climate change report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It summarises the risks, states a multitude of observed impacts and looks at the future risks and opportunities for adaptation and this time the IPCC haven’t held back- “the worst is yet to come”. The report and media articles (e.g … Read More