Polar Medal for Otago graduate

Agnieszka Fryckowska. Photo by British Press Association.
Agnieszka Fryckowska. Photo by British Press Association.
University of Otago graduate Agnieszka Fryckowska, whose meteorological survey work took her to the depths of the Antarctic, has received a Polar Medal for her British Antarctic Survey work.

Ms Fryckowska was presented with the Polar Medal by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, at Buckingham Palace on Friday.

Ms Fryckowska was born in New Zealand, to Polish parents.

She now lives in Cornwall, England, and is training to become a pilot.

She gained a bachelor of science degree from Otago in 1995 and completed a postgraduate diploma in science, also focusing on geography, in 1996.

Ms Fryckowska said that if it had not been for her time at Otago, "I'm not sure I would ever have considered working in the Antarctic''.

During her Otago geography studies she had worked in the Antarctic, which "opened my eyes to the opportunities''.

"I am very proud of my New Zealand roots and will always acknowledge the role that studying at Otago had in leading me to such a rewarding job,'' she said.

After graduating from Otago she gained a master's degree in water management from Cranfield University, England, and worked as a hydrologist.

"The skills gained from this work and my Otago degree allowed me to successfully gain my role as a BAS Meteorologist [in 2004],'' she said.

Her first assignment was a 34-month stint at Rothera Research Station, in the Antarctic, conducting meteorological research.

In following years she served as winter station leader at Halley V and VI stations, and as summer station leader at Bird Island and Rothera stations, before leaving the BAS last year.

Ms Fryckowska has praised two geography staff members still at the Otago department, Profs Sean Fitzsimons and Richard Morgan, as "standout'' lecturers.

Prof Morgan said yesterday that gaining the Polar Medal was a "tremendous'' achievement.

He praised Ms Fryckowska for always putting "110% into things'' with her studies, and she had "blossomed'' during her postgraduate work.

The Polar Medal award also reflected well on the Otago geography department, which was ranked as one of the top 100 university geography departments in the world, in QS rankings, he said.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

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