Alumni Profile: Alexandra Boghosian ‘03

You never know where you will end up when you start at Grace. The possibilities are endless. Take for example, Alexandra Boghosian. From a young age, Alex’s mind was filled with intellectual questions, yet she never imagined becoming a female scientist. She was interested in the arts and math; she even thought would grow up to be an architect. She never dreamed that her quest to find answers would lead her across the world to join a research team in Antarctica.
As a graduate student in glaciology at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, Alex has been working on a research team focusing on using satellite imagery to study surface hydrology in Antarctica, which has taken her to Greenland and Antarctica for fieldwork.
“What’s really strange is that I never really thought I was going to be a scientist. I very blindly didn’t realize that I was interested in science. I am still realizing it.”
When asked if it had anything to do with being a girl, she immediately replied “No,” but then reconsidered: did it? Was science not a role that was available in her set notion of what women do? She responded, “I want to say no because I want to defy this stereotype... but it is probably true.” She also did not imagine herself in Antarctica propelling giant computer floats out of a plane.
In 2016, Alex had the opportunity to do fieldwork in Antarctica, with one of the teams working on a project called ROSETTA: Decoding ice, ocean and tectonic mysteries of the Ross Ice Shelf. “Led by several leading scientists from different institutions, the point of the project is to map the Ross Ice Shelf, an area roughly the size of France that sits between east and west Antarctica.” Through mapping, the goal was to find out the shape of the ocean floor, learn the surface topography and map the internal surface of the ice. In addition, the team sought to gather information about the ocean next to the shelf. “There is this idea that warm ocean water is what is contributing to the melting ice shelves. The question is if the warm water is getting there or if it is farther out.” For this, Alex explained, they “actually push Alamo floats out of an airplane, which now send back emails everyday with data.” These ocean profilers collect information on temperature, salinity, and depth. While there are about four thousand of these profilers in the ocean, most of them are placed on ships, not chucked out of planes. “This is the first time anything like this has been done in Antarctica.”