Gina Moseley is an Ingeborg Hochmair Professor in the Institute of Geology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. She began caving at the age of 12, and then later developed an interest in cave-based research whilst studying Physical Geography at the University of Birmingham, UK. In 2009, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Bristol, UK, in which she used stalagmites from underwater caves to construct records of sea-level change over the last half a million years. Since 2011, she has worked in the Quaternary Research Group in the University of Innsbruck. She specialises in using cave mineral deposits to improve our understanding of rapid climate change events and warm climatic periods. In 2018, she won the prestigious FWF Start Prize to fund a 6-year palaeoclimatic research project in Northeast Greenland. Dr. Moseley is a Laureate of the 2021 Rolex Awards for Enterprise, a National Geographic Explorer, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and the main protagonist in the IMAX educational film Ancient Caves.

Gabriella Koltai is a senior scientist working at the Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck. She has recently joined the Greenland Caves Project and aims to establish quantitative estimates of cave air temperature for times when speleothems actively formed in North East Greenland. This work may improve the understanding of Artic amplification under generally warmer climate conditions, relative to present day. Gabriella is an enthusiastic cave and her research mostly focuses on caves. She earned her PhD in Earth Sciences at the University of Innsbruck in 2017. She is interested in speleothem-based climate reconstruction and speleogenesis. Currently, she also carries out research in the Eastern and Southern Alps on a unique type of cave deposits, cryogenic cave carbonates that form in cave ice when cave air temperature is slightly below 0°C

Anika Donner is a PhD student at the University of Innsbruck. She will use speleothems from the 2019 expedition to investigate mid-Pleistocene climate change in Northeast Greenland to improve our understanding of past warm periods. This may then be utilised to learn more about current and future global climate change. Before starting her PhD, Anika studied Physical Geography in Göttingen and Würzburg, Germany, with a focus on the cryosphere, high mountains and geomorphology. For her master’s thesis she investigated the various periglacial landforms of Jotunheimen, Norway.

Jet Vessies works as a research assistant at the Institute of Botany and Institute of Geology, University of Innsbruck. She works on pollen found in speleothems from the 2019 expedition to examine what the vegetation in Northern Greenland looked like during the mid-Pleistocene. Jet did her Bachelor in Natural and Social sciences at the University of Amsterdam, majoring in Physical Geography. Then, she did a joint master’s degree in Environmental Management of Mountain Areas at the University of Innsbruck and Free University of Bolzano. For her master’s thesis, she investigated how climate change and human activities influenced late Holocene vegetation patterns around Chamonix-Mont-Blanc, France. 

Lena Friedrich is a student assistant on the project. She helps with the processing of the samples, such as drilling for the stable isotope measurements. She is currently doing her B.Sc. in Earth Sciences at the University of Innsbruck.

Former Group Members

Jonathan Degenfelder is an assistant on the Greenland Caves project. Jonathan takes care of sample preparation, administrative duties, and updates the social media. In 2017, he received his B.Sc. in Earth Sciences from the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and he is now working towards his M.Sc. In 2018, he completed a semester abroad as the Universidad Austral de Chile.

Lilian Schuster is working as a Climate Analyst within the scope of the Greenland Caves Project. Her aim is to to characterise the modern climatology of the region containing the caves using Lagrangian back trajectory modelling. She received her B.Sc. in Physics with mathematical orientation from Konstanz, Germany, and has worked on an external bachelor thesis at the Andoya Space Center,  Andenes, Norway. Lilian is now completing her PhD at the University of Innsbruck. Her paper for the Greenland Caves Project was published in 2021 in Weather and Climate Dynamics.

Michael Ottman is working as our ICP-OES technician on the Horiba Jobin Yvon Activa. He will be analysing metals in water samples for both the Greenland Caves Project and also as part of collaborations with other members of the University of Innsbruck working on glacier waters and lake waters. In 2018, Mike received his MSc from the University of Vienna, Austria, where he investigated the fate and transport of uranium in the subsurface. Prior to coming to Austria, he earned a BSc from the University of Minnesota, USA, where he also worked on projects investigating the biogeochemistry of arsenic and fungal bioremediation.

Johannes Tischler is a B.Sc. student working on the Greenland Caves project. For his third-year project, Johannes investigated the laminated sediments discovered in Lemming cave during the 2019 expedition.

2019 Expedition Team

Hazel Barton is Professor and Director of the Integrated Bioscience PhD program at the University of Akron. Her research is geared toward understanding microbial interactions and adaptations to starvation in cave environments. Dr. Barton also investigates the role the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans plays in the White-nose Syndrome epidemic in bats. Dr. Barton is also an avid caver, having explored caves on six continents, serves on the Board of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute, is a past-director of the National Speleological Society (NSS), and an award-winning cave cartographer. Dr. Barton is currently a Fellow of the National Speleological Society, a Kavli Fellow of the US National Academy of Science, and Chair of the Committee on the Status of Women in Microbiology for the American Society for Microbiology. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Alice C. Evans Award for the advancement of women in science, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Chris Blakeley has been a part of the project since the first expedition in 2015. Chris manages the development of the worldwide Petzl Solutions network alongside delivering practical and theoretical training to specialists, evaluators, trainers and users. He is also involved in experimentation with existing and new techniques or solutions within the vertical environment; managing and evaluating hazards and risk associated with their use, training and development. Chris has been involved in rope access since 1992 as a technician, supervisor and assessor, working in a wide variety of situations around the world. He has a background in caving, climbing and mountaineering since childhood, participated in various expeditions, and has experience in cave and mountain rescue, tree care, navigation and boat operations and is reasonably handy at fixing things.

Pete Hodkinson is an aviation and space medicine doctor in the Royal Air Force and he enjoys spending time in the outdoors. He is the expedition doctor and has training and experience in pre-hospital first aid, immediate life support and wilderness and expedition medicine.

Adam Ignéczi is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. Currently, his research is focussing on the consequences of surface-to-bed meltwater transport on former and contemporary ice sheets. He is also involved in a permafrost monitoring project in the Dry Andes, Chile. He received a BSc in Earth Science and an MSc in Geography from the Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary. Recently he also earned a PhD in Glaciology from the University of Sheffield. He will be surveying glacial landforms and taking samples for OSL and TCN dating, to constrain the history of glacier fluctuations around the study sites of the Greenland Caves Project.

Robbie Shone: A cave explorer and visual storyteller, Robbie is recognised as one of the most accomplished cave photographers in the world. He is based in the heart of the Alps in the scenic alpine town of Innsbruck, Austria. Whilst completing a B.A. in Fine Art and Photography, Sheffield, UK, Robbie pursued his love of the outdoors. He developed a strong interest in caving, and in particular the challenges that cave photography has to offer. Over the past eighteen years, Robbie has lit up and captured stunning images of the naturally pitch-black world beneath our feet. Robbie has also worked for the European Space Agency (ESA) on the PANGAEA and PANGAEA-X programmes in which he documented astronauts undergoing geological and microbiological field training. Robbie’s exciting expedition photography has taken him to the remotest parts of the world where he’s photographed the ‘deepest’, ‘largest’, ‘longest’ cave systems known. In September 2018, Robbie spent two weeks solidly underground as part of a National Geographic-funded expedition to the bottom of Veryovkina (-2,212 m), the deepest cave in the world located in the Caucasus Mountains of Abkhazia (Georgia).

Paul Smith is director of Oxford University Museum of Natural History and Professor of Natural History. Prior to moving to Oxford in 2012 he was head of the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, as well as being director of the Lapworth Museum of Geology. Paul’s geological research is focussed on the interactions of Earth systems and organisms, particularly in relation to the origin and early evolution of animals. He has over thirty years experience of Arctic field expeditions, particularly in North and North-East Greenland, and was awarded the Polar Medal for contributions to Arctic research in 2017. Paul also has interests in the application of digital technologies to science museums, particularly in the areas of 3D visualisation, virtual reality and the evaluation of user experience.

Andrew Sole is a Lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield, UK. Andrew is a glaciologist who specialises in combining field observations, satellite remote sensing and numerical modelling to investigate contemporary glaciological processes, particularly in Greenland. His PhD, awarded in 2010 from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (University of Bristol, UK), investigated the dynamic behaviour of glaciers draining from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Andrew has conducted fieldwork in Greenland in ten out of the last 11 years, and has spent a total of more than nine months in Greenland in that time. He has also undertaken fieldwork in the European Alps and Southern Alps in New Zealand. For the Greenland Caves Project, Andrew will be helping to gather rock and sediment samples, and map glacial landforms which will be used to date the timing of past ice sheet behaviour.

Paul Töchterle is a doctoral student at the University of Innsbruck. After completing a degree in Geology, he worked as an R&D engineer at the German Helmholtz Association. His current PhD research revolves around the response of permafrost regions to rapid climate change events throughout the planet’s history. Previous work includes the development of methods to monitor cave microclimates of high-altitude caves. Paul is also one of the few people who have worked on cryogenic cave carbonates, a novel type of cave deposit related to past permafrost conditions. He’s a keen outdoors person and will join the expedition as a field assistant.