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Giulia Gai

Giulia is an ecotoxicologist specialized in polar wildlife. She obtained a PhD position at the Arctic Centre, University of Groningen, with her project proposal regarding Antarctic marine mammals ecotoxicology. Within her PhD trajectory, she will go to Antarctica and collect samples from seals and killer whales. She will analyze legacy and emerging contaminants together with proxies for diet. One of the goals of her research is to assess whether certain contaminants are biomagnifying through Antarctic trophic webs and in which concentrations they are present in top predators. She will study the differences in contaminants concentration depending on the species, ecotype and area of study. She will discuss the possible effects of these contaminants on Antarctic ecosystems, and the possible impacts that climate change and human activities may have on contaminants exposure.

Finally, she will set the base for standardized temporal trends studies on Antarctic predators, which still do not exist, and will permit comparisons between the Arctic and the Antarctic. This knowledge will be of great importance for informing policy makers, the wider public and the treaty systems that regulate the chemicals in question, contributing to the broader debate on human-Antarctic relationships.

Giulia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental and Natural Sciences and a Master’s Degree in Ecotoxicology and Environmental Sustainability, both obtained at the University of Siena, Italy. Over the years, she has gained experience both in the lab (gene expression, porphyrins, PFAS, stable isotopes and energy content analyses) and in the field (cetaceans, sharks and birds monitoring). During her Bachelor’s, she did an internship at the Italian CNR in Rome (Institute of Polar Science), she took some exams at the University of Helsinki that focused on the impact of climate change on Arctic ecosystems, and she studied PFAS temporal trends in Adélie penguins eggs collected in the Ross Sea Region. For her Master’s thesis, she worked on the ecotoxicological assessment of the loggerhead sea turtle through molecular biomarkers and porphyrins analyses. After her graduation, she moved to Tromsø, Norway, where she did an internship and then worked for the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). There, her study focused on PFAS temporal trends in polar bears and Arctic foxes, in relation to climate-driven alterations and feeding habits. During her time at NPI, she also had the opportunity to work at UNIS’ lab, in Svalbard.

Last modified:17 October 2023 3.55 p.m.