A typical day on a research ship involves shiftwork. So we'll be working 12 hours every day for the length of the expedition, which is 10 weeks, without a day off.
In science you don't get any financial incentive. There's no bonus, no extra holiday for the time you're away. If you were working for private companies in the oil or hydrocarbon exploration industry you'd get a hefty bonus for being away from your family for more than two months at a time.
As scientists we get our regular university salary and we work 12 hours every day – happily, for the privilege of being on the ship and the expedition.
It is hard work. But something like this expedition you're working in surroundings that there are interesting and inspiring. Not many people get a chance to go to the Southern Ocean and work off the coast of Antarctica. It's something you don't get a chance to do every day.
A typical day would involve getting up, having breakfast. You have all your meals cooked for you. All of your cooking and laundry is done for you. You don't have anything to worry about, apart from getting the job done. So it is pressurised but in many ways it is less pressurised than a normal work day at the University
There I'll be juggling teaching responsibilities, administration, running a lab, managing PhD students and postdoctoral fellows. All that sort of stuff you just forget about it for two months. You're just working in the lab on the ship as part of a team. In many ways there is less pressure although it is hard work.
So are you telling me it's just a holiday?
It's certainly not a holiday.