Who am I?

My name's Grant Macdonald.  I'm a PhD candidate and NASA Earth & Space Science Fellow in the Department of the Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago where I research the hydrology of ice shelves in Antarctica and Greenland. I am advised both by Professor Douglas MacAyeal in Chicago and Dr Alison Banwell at the University of Colorado at Boulder (formerly Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI), University of Cambridge). E-mail me at gjmacdonald@uchicago.edu and follow me on twitter at @geogeordie.

 The University of Chicago (source: insidehighered.com)

The University of Chicago (source: insidehighered.com)

I was born and raised in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the north east of England. After realizing I wasn't going to replace Alan Shearer as Newcastle United's number 9 or join Noel and Liam Gallagher in Oasis, I moved to Edinburgh to study Geography at the University of Edinburgh primarily motivated by an interest in climate change . While there, I took a course in Glaciology run by Professor Pete Nienow and discovered a love for the cryosphere.  After pestering the glaciologists there, I got the amazing opportunity to join the Edinburgh team in Greenland in the summer of 2010 where I worked as a field assistant on the Leverett Glacier project. I used my time in Greenland to collect data for my undergraduate dissertation which I wrote on 'Investigating the relationship between the hydrology and velocity of Leverett Glacier, Greenland', supervised by Pete Nienow.  The following summer I returned to the same site with the Bristol University Glaciology Group.

 Me on Leverett Glacier, Greenland in 2011. 

Me on Leverett Glacier, Greenland in 2011. 

After graduating from Edinburgh I obtained a position at the Centro de Estudios Avazados de Zonas Aridas (CEAZA) in La Serena, Chile for 8 months.  There, I worked mostly as a field assistant, accumulating months of fieldwork in the northern Chilean Andes where we studied Tapado Glacier and its watershed.

 Tapado Glacier, Coquimbo, Chile, March 2012 (Photo by me)

Tapado Glacier, Coquimbo, Chile, March 2012 (Photo by me)

The following summer, I returned to the UK to complete an MPhil in Polar Studies at SPRI in Cambridge. I worked under the supervision of Dr Neil Arnold and produced my thesis titled 'Modelling the subglacial drainage system of Petermann Glacier, Greenland'.

By this point, I knew I wanted to study in the US but needed to complete the GRE exam before applying. I also wanted to gain experience teaching and to see China and so sought a job there. I was offered a position teaching English at Guiyang University in Guizhou province, south-west China where I spent the year teaching oral and 'scientific' English to undergraduate students in a city amongst China's beautiful karst hills.

 Guizhou's hills, June 2014. (Photo by me)

Guizhou's hills, June 2014. (Photo by me)

For the past four years, I've been living in Chicago - apart from three extended trips to Antarctica, one to Svalbard (at UNIS) and two stins stint at SPRI, Cambridge.  I am using a combination of remote sensing, field work and modelling to improve our knowledge and understanding of water on ice shelves and how this will affect their stability. In my spare time, despite the distance, I'm an avid follower of Newcastle United.  I am active in both UK and US politics and have published a couple of pieces on UK political new media site, Novara Media. I am proudly a member of, and active with, the British Labour Party, the Democratic Socialists of America and the University of Chicago's Graduate Students United union.

 Dave, one of many Adelie Penguins I was lucky to meet through my work in Chicago, November 2016, Antarctica. (Photo by me)

Dave, one of many Adelie Penguins I was lucky to meet through my work in Chicago, November 2016, Antarctica. (Photo by me)

Educational & Academic history

PhD Candidate, Glaciology, University of Chicago, 2014-
Student on PhD Glaciology course, UNIS, Svalbard, February-March 2016
MPhil (with Distinction), Polar Studies, University of Cambridge, 2012-2013
Research/Field Assistant, CEAZA, 2012-2013
BSc (Hons), Geography, University of Edinburgh, 2007-2011

Teaching experience

Teaching Assistant (Global Warming, Natural Hazards), University of Chicago, 2014-2015
English Teacher (Oral English, Scientific English) Guiyang University, 2013-2014
English Teacher, Shunyi No. 5 Middle School, Beijing, August 2013

Field experience

McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica, January-February 2017
McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica, October-November 2016
McMurdo Ice Shelf, Antarctica, December 2015-January 2016
Tapado Glacier, Chile, over two months accumulated November 2011-April 2012
Leverett Glacier, Greenland, July-August 2011
Leverett Glacier, Greenland, July-August 2010

awards

NASA Earth & Space Science Fellowship, 2015-
Mackay Greenland Fund, 2010