Doctoral Candidate

Entered 2014

330 Claudia Cohen Hall
Office Hours by Appointment


MA in Liberal Studies, The New School, New York
BA Hons in English Literature, Victoria University, Wellington
Cours de Civilisation Francaise, La Sorbonne, Paris

Research Interests

My work focuses on science in the Arctic, and in particular how scientists think about, and materialize, the deep past and the distant future in the frozen region. Since the eighteenth century, when naturalists began to argue that geology could be read to reveal earth’s long and complex history, there has been a sense of a different kind of time operating below our planet’s surface. Ice, which can preserve matter over a long durée, and hence the Arctic, a land of expansive ice, was quickly bound up in efforts to understand, or imagine, this deep time. The Arctic has therefore long held—and continues to hold—a unique place in efforts to conceptualize humanity’s relationship to nature over the ages.

Today, deep time is materialized in ice cores: with this novel archive, scientists can trace events far into the past. But this sense of geologic history has expanded our conception of time forward, too: with the rise of the Anthropocene, the threat of a foreshortened global future has driven efforts to tap into deep time as a means of preservation. In the Arctic, ice cores from Greenland are extracted and used to read the past while at the Svalbard Seed Vault, the very same material is used to protect a precious cargo long into the future. These material manifestations of deep time—one beautiful incisions into the past, the other a repository left for the future—exemplify the relation between materiality and temporality in the frozen north.

My project is as much a history of science in the Arctic as it is an exploration of how humans represent time through material objects, like ice and seeds. It is thus a project that traces specific field sites in the Arctic, while at the same time grappling with questions of aesthetic conceptualization and visual translation.

In 2017, I am taking part in an expeditionary residency program, The Arctic Circle, where I will spend two weeks sailing the high north with artists and scientists on a 100-year old barquentine tall ship. 

Prior coming to Penn, I studied at The New School for Social Research on a Fulbright Scholarship, completing my MA in Liberal Studies. Between my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I worked at the New Zealand Parliament for Maori Affairs and lived and studied in Paris.  

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