Meet an Antarctic explorer: Major Nics Wetherill

Nics is an army GP doctor who planned and led a 61-day polar expedition for a team of six women (called the Ice Maidens). Here, she shares what inspired her to begin her adventures in science.

Major Nics Wetherill.
Photo: Crown copyright

Read a full interview with her in Whizz Pop Bang: Polar Science – out now

What first inspired you to become a scientist?

My father was a doctor in the army, and I used to hear about his travels all around the world looking after soldiers and fixing them. I am very similar to him so it was no surprise that I wanted to join, too. I needed to make sure I would enjoy it so I looked into it a lot. It is not for everyone, but as soon as I started doing some army work, I knew this was the perfect job for me.

What advice do you have for young scientists?

My top 3 pieces of advice:

“Always do what interests you.”

Nics Wetherill

Always do what interests you, don’t do it because you think it is the right thing to do.  I wasn’t very clever at school and didn’t get the straight A’s that most medical students are used to getting,  (infact I had to re-take my Spanish A level to get into medical school) but I did really well at the sciences and at medical school because I was so interested in it that I found it really easy. 

“You don’t have to be just one type of anything – you can do lots more.”

Nics Wetherill

Don’t carve a path too early – despite knowing I wanted to be a doctor, I had no idea what kind of doctor I wanted to be, I still don’t really know and keep changing my mind.  I let life and events and experience guide me to my current career, but even then that might change as I am really interested in emergency medicine – you don’t have to just be one type of anything, you can do lots more.

“Present with a solution, rather than a problem.”

Nics Wetherill

Don’t wait for an opportunity to come to you.  If you have an idea, or a vague thought about doing something, don’t wait for someone to offer it to you, go ahead and do your own research and get planning on it yourself.  You won’t get it you don’t ask! If you need the support of people higher up, then provide them with the reason why they should support you in your idea – present with a solution rather than a problem.

Want to find out more about Nics’s amazing Antarctic adventure? Read the Ice Maidens’s blogs here.

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