Winning student’s science poster illuminates Arctic seafloor
Thursday, December 7, 2023

APECS Arctic Science to Art Poster

Myrah Graham, a graduate student with the Marine Institute’s 4D Oceans Lab, is the winner of the “Arctic Science to Art” poster contest for early-career researchers.

“Who Lives at the Bottom of the Ocean?” is an the illustration showing many benthic organisms, including coral, anemones and sea urchins, all living on the seafloor of fiords in the Canadian Arctic.

Visual voyage

The illustration is a visual voyage of Ms. Graham’s research on these seafloor animals called benthos and their communities that keep the ocean healthy. To create the artwork, she was partnered with Yukon-based artist Misha Donohoe.

Ms. Graham’s research focuses on the spatial distribution of the benthic ecology of Arctic fiords and bays, using multibeam sonar data and video of the seafloor.

She is working on a master’s of science (environmental science) offered by Memorial’s Faculty of Science and is supervised by Marine Institute researcher Dr. Katleen Robert, who leads the 4D Oceans Lab.

‘Cherished activity’Myrah Graham

“For collecting video data, we work with local Inuit vessel operators in Nunavut and Nunatsiavut. We prioritize working locally because the research becomes a sharing experience,” said Ms. Graham.

“My last visit to Pangnirtung was during a clam harvesting time when families go out at low tide following a full moon. This event illustrates a cherished activity that connects Inuit to benthos. Although many of these organisms are already known, such as Itik (or sea urchin), the imagery helped to communicate our scientific terms for benthos, as well as why we study them.

“We had the fortune of hiring a local high school student in Pang as a research assistant. When he first saw the live footage of the seafloor just outside his community, he raised his eyebrows and said, ‘I didn't know this was all down there!’”

Educational outreach

Ms. Graham plans to distribute the artwork as postcards at the local elementary and high schools in Nain and Pangnirtung in Nunavut. Materials will also be shared at community presentations in both communities. Benthic habitat maps, derived from her research, assist local governments and fisheries, as well as hunter and trapper associations.

The Association of Canadian Universities for Northern Studies (ACUNS) and the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) Canada, with funding support from ArcticNet, announced the unveiling of the “Arctic Science to Art” contest grand finale Dec. 4.

The poster was unveiled this week at the 2023 ArcticNet Annual Scientific Meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut.

The contest is an opportunity to share Arctic studies with northern communities for educational outreach.