Trees, lake© iStock Women of the Arctic Council: Interview with former polar biologist Johanna Ikävalko 5 March 2021Arctic PeoplesArctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme In honor of International Women’s Day on 8 March, we spoke with some of the women who work with the Arctic Council to learn more about them, what it means to be a woman in their field and their advice for young women. Johanna Ikävalko is a former polar biologist and consultant for the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP). Now as the new Director of the Arctic Centre, we spoke with Johanna about her calling to Arctic research, having a fearless personality and advice for young women interested in Arctic science. Can you tell us about yourself and how you have been involved with the Arctic Council? I’m a former polar biologist, with particular interest in sea ice biology in the Arctic, Antarctic and the frozen Baltic Sea. Through various steps and phases in my career, I’m now the new Director of the Arctic Centre (University of Lapland), as well as a new inhabitant of Rovaniemi, the Arctic capitol of Finland. Prior to my current position, I worked as a consultant for the AMAP Secretariat where my tasks were related to improving Earth system science approach, monitoring the Arctic and engagement of Indigenous Permanent Participants in AMAP’s work. What motivated you to pursue a career in Arctic science? This was purely through natural selection. I simply feel strongly that ice, snow and Arctic traits are part of what I am. I’m generally interested to know and understand the world around me, with a true researcher’s heart beating in my chest. When I met my supervisor to be, Dr. Helge Thomsen, from the University of Copenhagen and was invited to join his ice biology research group, it was all crystal clear to me: I am a polar biologist. What do you enjoy most about your work? Days never repeat themselves. I think I’m privileged as every day at work is a day at high school. The research interest at the Arctic Centre – including the environment, Arctic governance, anthropology, Indigenous peoples and law – form an impressive and unique ensemble. The Arctic Centre also has science communication and its crown jewel, the Arctic Science Centre. This combination of various activities is very invigorating.