Norwegian version of this page

Becca's dream job

Tired of zoom meetings and home office, RoCS PhD student Rebecca Robinson arranged herself a job on the Hurtigruten as an Expedition Lecturer. The lectures on the Sun and the Northern Lights are part of the doctoral degree at the Department of Theoretical Astrophysics.

Innerst i Trollfjorden med Hurtigruten

Trollfjorden in Hadsel municipality in Nordland: Becca and colleagues from Expedtition Team on Hurtigruten. Juliane (right) works as an interpreter and translates Becca's lectures into German. Photo: Private.

The supervisor of Rebecca (Becca), director Mats Carlsson at RoCS, fully supports the Outreach job, and the center has purchased a solar telescope and expedition clothing for the trip.

Rebecca's best memory from the first trip with Hurtigruten was the day she saw a killer whale (Orca) at Skjervøya and later experienced fantastic Northern Lights over Alta.

Research communication about the Sun

The outreach work that the research fellows do at RoCS - Rosseland Center for Solar Physics is diverse. Becca has previously written articles, and made videos about the sun and the northern lights for the research days of the Norwegian Research Council. Research dissemination makes up 1/4 of the doctoral degree she takes. Becca likes to communicate in both Norwegian and English. She arrived in Norway September 2019, and has learned the language well. Her plan is to stay.

Beccas bilder fra Hurtigruten

How did you get the idea to apply for an outreach job with Hurtigruten?

- Throughout the pandemic I was alone in my apartment doing outreach through social media, but it really started to burn me out. Even though I was grateful to reach out to people far away, the connection isn’t the same. So, I decided to contact Hurtigruten’s chief scientist to see what their collaboration options are. Turns out, they love having scientists on board their ships!

What does the job consist of?

- My job as an Expedition Lecturer is to provide scientific lectures, workshops, and observation campaigns during the voyages. Since it isn’t possible to provide constant scientific content every single day, I also assist the Expedition Team and the Expedition Coordinators with daily tasks and excursions. 

What do you like best about the job?

- I love speaking to people directly about my research on the Sun, and I also like to teach them about the science behind northern lights. Fortunately, people have really enjoyed my lectures and passengers have said that they have a better understanding of northern lights because of them. I am also grateful to be traveling again, and it’s great to be in a new port almost every day!

- Any downsides?

Even though I work the same amount of hours as usual, our schedule is totally unusual. I definitely feel like I have to be “on” all the time and that can be tiresome. On top of that, dealing with COVID regulations, policies, and protocols is understandable and necessary, but extra demanding. 

How long are you gone? When will you be home? Will you go out again?

- Each journey from Hamburg to Nordkapp and back takes two weeks, and I joined for three trips. I embarked and disembarked the ship in Bergen and traveled back to Oslo on November 15th. The plan is to go out again in mid-January with another ship called MS Maud, and I’ll be gone for six weeks again.

What is the best memory you have of the trip?

- My favorite part of the journey is always when we sail up north, and there was one particularly magical day while we were sailing between Svolvær and Alta. In the morning we saw orcas near Skjervøya, and that same evening we saw unbelievable northern lights south of Alta!

By Eyrun Thune
Published Nov. 24, 2021 12:13 PM - Last modified Dec. 16, 2021 4:04 PM