Expedition 6: Meet the Scientist

Mariama Dryak

Mariama DryakI grew up on an organic chicken and dairy farm in rural Wisconsin, which is where I spent most of my free time when not at school working and raising calves. Throughout high school I loved getting involved in as many different activities as I could, some of which include: 4-H, an agricultural leadership organization called FFA, band (I played trumpet!), and Spanish club. One of the things I was really passionate about was running and competing in cross country. While in high school I took a class on Wisconsin history, where I learned about how the landscape where I grew up had been shaped by glaciers and inhabited by native peoples long before I came around. This class, along with other history classes, really inspired me to find a university where I could study archaeology. So, I applied and was accepted to Durham University (located in northeast England), and began my studies in a program that allowed me to study English, archaeology, and physical geography.

Through my classes in physical geography I learned about climate change and became fascinated with studying larger earth systems, specifically glaciers. My undergraduate dissertation fieldwork in southern Iceland solidified my interest in studying interactions between glaciers and the environment, and prompted me to apply to graduate schools in the US. Today I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Earth and Climate Sciences and the Climate Change Institute, where I study how icebergs melt around Antarctica and how that is linked to glacier systems on land nearby. In my free time I edit an environmental advocacy and science communication blog that I started in 2016 entitled “Let’s Do Something BIG” and interview rad scientists for a podcast that tells the stories of women and underrepresented people in the Earth, ocean and environmental sciences called “we persist.” I still love running long distances as well as climbing up mountains, communicating science or getting muddy whilst wandering off trail or orienteering.