My name is Virginia, and I was the final Ph.D. student to join the project this summer, perhaps because I’m the only social scientist, and I’ll be the one researching the researchers. In any case, I feel lucky for the chance to work alongside all of the participants! I was born in Russia, but I’ve spent the majority of my life in Prague, Czech Republic. But, now I live next door in Vienna, another one of the most picturesque European cities, where I’m working on my Ph.D. at the University of Vienna.

Although I’m not a life scientist or an engineer like everyone else in the Future Arctic, my discipline, Science and Technology Studies (STS), has a long tradition of investigating how science, climate and new technologies coalesce to form our common conception of knowledge, and the way humans, institutions and their practices intervene in that formation.

Since the completion of my bachelor’s degree, I’ve had an interest in the relationship between society, knowledge and technology, and how our day-to-day activities connect with global processes. This brought me to study economics, but after completing my undergraduate degree, I decided to continue with a more critical and immersive type of social science research and pursued my MA degree in Sociocultural Anthropology with a minor in Philosophy at the Charles University in Prague. Subsequently, doing ethnography and fieldwork, where I could immerse myself in the world of the participants, became my passion. I’ve visited excavations with archeologists, followed financial traders, and lived in an anarchist community in Russia, who minted their own currency against the rule of law. For me the most exciting part of this experience comes from in-person observations and the fascinating conversations that follow.

Similarly, my Ph.D. project with the Future Arctic, intends to examine, in real time, the way machine analytics and big data find their way into climate research. I’m curious about the opportunities and struggles that could arise from this journey, and what new responsibilities such research might unveil. That said, I hope I don’t become too bothersome with all my questions as I’ll most likely have a lot of them for every participant of the Future Arctic project. I realize that the current pandemic doesn’t make this process easy. As you can imagine, conducting research in the social sciences without socializing is an obvious struggle. Nevertheless, I hope we can find ways to at least make it fun!