Marine research scientist / Hydroponics team / Dumpling Queen
Mel, how many times have you come to Antarctica and what attracts you back here?
This is my third time in Antarctica. I spent two summer seasons here previously in 2009/10 and 2010/11. The place itself is definitely the number one attraction.
Being a marine scientist here is fantastic, if I can look beyond the freezing water temperatures. Sticking your hands into sub-zero degrees water and tinkering around hurts a lot more than you think.
When I was little I wanted to be a volcanologist, but my mom said “no” because she didn’t want her kid dying in a volcanic eruption. (Volcanology’s loss is our gain Mel.)
Best gig as a marine scientist and best Antarctic experience?
Being in Antarctica as a summer scientist used to rate pretty highly — although I guess now my best gig would be scoring a winter on top of that!
In the 2010/11 summer, a bunch of us were on the IRBs collecting seawater samples and saw a pod of orcas (possibly seven, but I swear it looked like 17!) swimming about 300 metres ahead of us. It was absolutely surreal. Got that ticked off my list. I love how everything is stark and white and silent and sometimes peaceful.
I also love the fact that there are no rats in Antarctica.
Who inspires you Mel?
People who put themselves out of their comfort zones and make the best of their situations.
Mel, what have you learnt about living in our little Davis community over the winter?
Farting and burping in public becomes socially acceptable, I guess because there is no one to impress.
If you were granted one wish, what would it be Mel?
No rats in the world, ever. (Obviously Hangar Rats don’t count!)
So Mel, if you were a car, what would you be?
A Mini Cooper S — small yet fast enough to zip between cars while on the road, and finding parking spaces would be a breeze. (…I can’t believe how popular the Mini Cooper S is this year!)
If you could be anyone else, who would it be?
Anyone who travels and writes for a living. I’m not fussed, I just want to see the world.
Mel your nick name is ‘Evilness', how did you get that?
I’m still trying to figure that out. I like to think that I’m a slander victim of Linc’s and that my good intentions were grossly misunderstood.
Where did you learn your wonderful Asian cooking skills?
I guess if you eat it enough you learn how to combine flavours and put a dish together. Most of what I know has been a result of observing family and friends while they cook as well as watching lots of cooking programs on TV as a kid. (Time well spent in front of the TV Mel, your prawn dumplings are to die for.)
Every week you head out and collect seawater samples. How much water are you going to bring back with you?
Since the start of winter I have collected about 80 litres worth of seawater. By the time we head back I think we will break the 100 litre mark (Have fun, Nick R!)
Mel, you have been prolific with your knitting this winter. What have you made so far?
A vest, two tops (a third in progress) a scarf, a neck warmer/cowl thing, a pair of wristlets for Cathie and a fail beanie which will have to be pulled out soon. I can be quite obsessive at times.
What is in store for you when you return home?
Lots of heat and humidity. I'll be flying back to Malaysia to spend Christmas and the Chinese New Year with my parents.
Well Mel, it has been a delight getting to know you a little better. Davis has enjoyed having its taste buds tantalized with your authentic dishes as we all watch those knitting projects progress.