Nathan’s off to study human ‘guinea pigs’ in the Antarctic

Dr Nathan Smith is ready for his Antarctic adventure
Dr Nathan Smith is ready for his Antarctic adventure

A university lecturer from Market Harborough is off to the Antarctic - to study other people.

Dr Nathan Smith’s job is to see how an international expedition copes with extreme conditions in the frozen south.

“This expedition brings together people from around the world, a lot of whom have never been out of the country they live in” he said.

“They idea is to see how they perform in such an extreme and isolated environment.”

Dr Smith, a lecturer in sports psychology at the University of Northampton, is doing research into motivation.

“I’ll be observing the others and taking notes, and there’s a questionnaire before and after the expedition” he said.

“I’ve been on a few mini-expeditions myself, but nothing like this. In many ways, I’m as naive as them!”

The expedition - organised by British polar adventurer Robert Swan - begins in March next year. The project boat sails from Ushuaia in Argentina, a town nicknamed “the End of the World”.

Two dozen expedition members will spend more than two weeks together, in temperatures that can be as low as -25 degrees centigrade.

“For me it’s a professional opportunity” said Dr Smith. “The chance to be able to collect this sort of data doesn’t happen very often.

“We’ll be looking at psychology in extreme conditions.

“It will be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and a fascinating source of research.”

Dr Smith is bidding for research funding for the trip and also seeking sponsorship from local businesses.

In return, sponsors will be invited to a local post-expedition talk, and individual companies could also receive a specialised workshop on developing group/team cohesion.