Mawson Station Leader Bob Jones
I’m Bob Jones, I am the Mawson station leader for 2012. I grew up in Sydney and went to high school and university there and I am a veterinarian.
I have always had a great interest in Antarctica and the sub Antarctic islands. I was fortunate to go Heard Island in the 1980’s three times, two with the Australian Antarctic Division, studying penguins and elephant seals. Then I was sort of keen to winter, I was also keen to take on a leadership role that didn’t involve my area of expertise. So that’s what started me off in 1992 and I went to Macquarie Island and I have been to some of the other stations as well as a Station Leader.
This year at Mawson we haven’t got any scientists during the winter period, the scientists will come in in November and do their projects then. But some of the people at Mawson have to maintain some of the automated experiments which are going on. There’s a lot of physics and meteorological projects where these have to be checked. We are very fortunate at Mawson to have emperor penguins and this is one of the really big highlights of Mawson. There’s been ongoing research by the Australian Antarctic Division and we have to go to three of the colonies that are close to Mawson and continue with this monitoring program and take photographs of the penguins during the breeding period.
Another important piece of research is medical research which will actually be done on us. And this is a joint project with NASA, Monash University and the Polar Medicine Unit here. They are trying to understand the relationship between fatigue, sleep, sleep disorders, psychological well being and safety of our group to gain understandings of that so they can better prepare the astronauts.
There are many reasons I am interested in going to Antarctica and going back to Antarctica this year. It’s a great adventure and I think adventures and really important in life. It’s as pristine an environment as we can get I the world today, so that’s very very special and it’s a privilege to go down there because not everyone can go there, so this makes it all the more important.
One of the things that is really important for me is the actual community that develops down there. So we’ve got 15 people at Mawson, everyone has a specific job, everyone knows that the whole community is depending on them to do their job to the best of their ability. Nothing is locked up, I can trust everyone, so it’s very very special and it’s great to be part of that and its inspirational because you can achieve so much together.
It’s a scenically spectacular place, you know its 900x700 metres of rock, which the buildings are on. Ice cliffs either side of the station, mountains behind it, wonderful sea-ice once it forms, emperor penguins are breeding on the sea-ice, what more could you want?