Astrid Strunk årgang 2008 fra Grenaa Gymnasium fik Aarhus Universitets PhD-pris 2021

Science Award to former student

How fast will the ice cap melt? – the scientific research of a year 2008 graduate from Grenaa Gymnasium helps to answer this question

Earlier this year Astrid Strunk, who since her final exams at Grenaa Gymnasium has become a geologist, received the Aarhus University Research Foundation PhD Award. Each year five “particularly talented newly graduated PhDs receive it and with the honour comes DKr. 50.000. Astrid received the award for her investigation of how fast the ice cap in northern Greenland melted during the latest interglacial period 10.000 years ago.

During her research she had to develop new improved methods and this again helps to improve the predictions of how fast the ice cap will melt as a consequence of the current climate changes. Her results are sadly enough not uplifting: the ice cap back then smelted faster than what has been estimated by scientists.

Astrid Strunk modtog Aarhus Universitets PhD-pris 2021Polar expeditions and computer models

Astrid explains that researching involves different types of work. It is not possible to examine climatic conditions 1000 or 10.000 years ago with out materials from that age. So Astrid has been on polar expeditions to collect samples of bedrock and lake bed to be examined at the laboratory back in Denmark.
This is also the case in her current project at the Danish National Museum about the climatic conditions in southern Greenland during the Viking Age.
– I spend my time equally at field work, at the laboratory and at the computer where modelling is an important part of extracting information out of my data. Obviously, you can’t see what it looks like deep down or 10.000 years ago and therefore computer models are necessary, she explains. – What motivates me as a scientist is that I can contribute to create knowledge today that didn’t exist yesterday. I also really like the interdisciplinarity involved, Astrid continues.

Apart from geology and computer modelling she also had to include biology in her PhD project. Interdisciplinarity is also at core in the current project where she works closely together with a pollen analysis archeologist

Becoming a scientist via San Francisco

Becoming a geologist was not exactly in the horizon when Astrid entered Grenaa Gymnasium. – I chose English, German and Social Studies for my specialized study programme, she recalls. – But it was the geography lessons that made me interested in geology, so I simply took the levels I needed afterwards.
– I have really good memories from Grenaa Gymnasium. During those three years everything in my life was related to school. Friends, music, student council and going to classes, Astrid recalls. – I think it is important to enjoy and appreciate it when you are in it. These are the years when you practice how to be a student. Practice good study habits, because at the university you really need them, Astrid says.
– To me the environment at Aarhus University was a very nice experience. I was surrounded by students like myself who were dedicated to study and learn. After my bachelor I took part of my master’s programme in San Francisco where I worked with sea level rise and computer models, and this was where I came on track of my PhD project.