Penn State to host Polar Day 2014

April 18, 2014

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Only three people in the world have crossed Antarctica alone and only one was a woman. Author and explorer Felicity Aston, the first woman to cross Antarctica alone, will speak at Penn State during Polar Day 2014.

Penn State University’s Polar Day, a free public event celebrating the natural and cultural value of the Polar Regions, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 19, in the HUB-Robeson Center's Freeman Auditorium.

Polar Day, a free public event, will be held Saturday, April 19 in the HUB-Robeson Center's Freeman Auditorium.

The event will begin with a lecture on rapid change in the Arctic by Julienne Stroeve, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. Stroeve has briefed government officials around the world on climate change and Arctic ice, and has studied sea ice at its lowest extent in the Arctic Ocean.

At 10:30 a.m., Aston, a meteorologist, explorer and author, will share stories of her polar expeditions, including her record-breaking 2012 journey across Antarctica. Just before midnight Nov. 24, 2011, the 34-year-old was left completely alone on the coast of Antarctica. The isolation was instant and devastating. Her most recent book, “Alone in Antarctica,” details her brave and dangerous race against time.

In her most recent expedition, Aston led a three-person team across northern Europe and Siberia to record the lives of those living in extreme climates. She will hold a book signing at 11:30 a.m. following the talk.

A data sonification performance by Matt Kenney, a graduate student in the Penn State School of Visual Arts, and Mark Ballora, associate professor of music technology in the Penn State School of Music, will take place at 12:30 p.m. This technique of using audio to convey information provides an alternative to data visualization.

At 12:45 p.m. James Dixon, professor of anthropology at the University of New Mexico, will give a lecture titled “Archaeology on Ice.” Global warming-induced ice melt has allowed Dixon to study artifacts that have been hidden in the ice for thousands of years. After Dixon’s talk, the award-winning documentary “People of a Feather” will be screened at 1:45 p.m. The performance will be based on ice thickness data provided by David Pollard in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

Free tickets for a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) demonstration will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at 9 a.m. by the Freeman Auditorium. The ROVs – devices that are used for sub-ice exploration – will be piloted by Buzz Scott, president of OceansWide, a nonprofit that supports science and education. This demonstration will take place at 3 p.m. and at 3:45 p.m. in the McCoy Natatorium.

Other activities will include a raffle for a free copy of James Balog’s book “Chasing Ice,” a graduate student poster competition to be judged by State High and Park Forest middle school Polar Ambassadors, and an exhibition of the Best Polar Image, a competition among Penn State undergraduate and graduate students.
Free parking will be available at the HUB parking deck, and coffee and snacks will be served throughout the day. Polar Day 2014 is sponsored by the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, the Penn State Eberly College of Science and the Penn State Polar Center. For more information or for access assistance, contact Pernille Sporon Boving at or visit

The Polar Center fosters creative, ground-breaking and synergistic collaboration by catalyzing exchange among members with a unique breadth of expertise at Penn State, representing the life-, physical- and social sciences. The center provides a unique platform for powerfully forward-thinking scientific exchange with other national and international institutions through workshops and conferences focusing on polar science, and with the local community through public events and lectures communicating the unique beauty and scientific and cultural value of these regions.

Last Updated May 21, 2015