Svenja Halfter standing on a ship deck

Svenja Halfter

Polar Marine Scientist

PhD Candidate, marine biology and biogeochemistry
Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies,
University of Tasmania

Young Tassie Scientists 2018, 2020

I fell in love with the Polar Regions as a child when I watched a documentary about penguins. For me it was clear: I wanted to become a polar marine biologist! I started studying marine biology in Germany and got the chance to spend over a year in the Arctic as part of my master’s degree. What an amazing experience! For the first time, I could watch Arctic foxes, polar bears, and seals in their natural habitat and could learn everything about small animals in the sea ice. Not mentioning the fun, I had driving snowmobiles or dog sledges and seeing the Aurora borealis in the night sky.


For my PhD project, I changed my research focus from the Arctic to the Antarctic and moved to Tasmania. Here, I study small animals in the Southern Ocean that drift with the water currents, called zooplankton, and how they help us fight Climate Change by storing carbon dioxide from our atmosphere in the deep sea. The best part of the job: the research voyages! I love working together with scientists from different disciplines – I always learn a lot. What you also need for a voyage: a good stomach! It is the Southern Ocean after all, so the sea will get rough!


What I love most about my job is travelling the world while doing things I really like. I counted whales and dolphins on big cargo ships while crossing the Atlantic, fished for crabs in the deepest freshwater lake on Earth (Lake Baikal in Russia), worked on a fishery research vessel in the German North Sea and travelled for conferences and meetings around the world. When I’m not travelling and need a break from science, I’ll go bushwalking and enjoy Tasmania’s great nature.

Follow Svenja on Twitter: @svenja_halfter 

Watch Svenja’s videos below!

Introducing Svenja Halfter: (suitable for all ages)

A day in the life of a Polar Marine Biologist: (suitable for all ages)

Fishing for Zooplankton: (suitable for all ages)