The Life of Arctic Oceanography--How it Affects Family (Paty Matrai)

Video Shot in: 2009

Dr. Paty Matrai discusses the challenges of communication during Arctic expeditions. She explains that when researchers venture above 60 degrees north, traditional means of communication like cell phones and emails become unreliable. To address this, they carry iridium satellite phones to stay connected with their teams and families. Dr. Matrai emphasizes the importance of maintaining communication with schools, especially during the Arctic summer when Northern Hemisphere schools are on vacation while Southern Hemisphere schools are in session. She actively engages with schools from countries like Chile and Argentina, establishing relationships with teachers and conducting outreach activities. Dr. Matrai recounts a personal anecdote where she communicated with her family from 89 degrees north using a satellite phone while they were camping in Canada. The immediacy of hearing her voice had a profound impact on her children, highlighting the challenges of being away for extended periods. She also reflects on the luxury of focusing solely on their research while in the field, uninterrupted by other responsibilities. Dr. Matrai appreciates the gift of working on a single project without distractions and how it can be a valuable lesson for her children and young professionals learning to balance multiple tasks. Despite missing their families, researchers in the field find joy in the opportunity to solely focus on their work. Dr. Matrai highlights the rigorous schedule and long working hours during expeditions, emphasizing the need for her team to get sufficient rest. She clarifies that fieldwork is not a leisurely cruise but rather an intense period of dedicated work.