Alison, geographic data analyst

Having moved from Scotland to join BAS in May 2000, Alison was initially taken on as a Coastal Mapping Assistant where she developed a database of coastal changes on the Antarctic Peninsula.

Brief encounter

“My first job with BAS was a one-year contract to map coastal changes on the Antarctic Peninsula. Even though it was only a fixed-term contract, I came here hoping to learn a great deal about the region, to learn new skills and continue working with the organisation (all things being well).

Fortunately, I’ve now found another role within BAS that is permanent. My new job as a Geographic Data Analyst involves producing new large-scale topographic maps of areas of the Antarctic Peninsula. Much of the continent hasn’t been mapped in detail before, so I work as part of a team generating new maps for scientists who need such detail in their fieldwork or research”.

Satisfying work

“The best part of the job is actually going to Antarctica and collecting the raw data. We need to collect aerial photographs, and we do this using a very large aerial survey camera installed in a BAS Twin Otter aircraft. We also collect accurate ground control point positions to obtain the correct geographic position and orientation of the photographs. Usually I go for four months during the summer season, every two years; and in the meantime, I work on the maps back in Cambridge”.


“The MAGIC (Mapping and Geographical Information Centre) is a small and friendly team of six. We all enjoy being able to map this fascinating continent; and more than anything else, it’s the chance to map areas that have never been mapped before — and there are few places in the world where you can say that!”.

New experiences

“There are also few places where you can climb mountains that may have only been climbed once or twice before. I’ve also been taken down a crevasse by a Field Assistant, camped on a glacier, flown across many parts of this beautiful continent, and taken hundreds of photos”.