People & Culture

Featured Fellow: Peter Suedfeld

  • May 31, 2014
  • 256 words
  • 2 minutes
Peter Suedfeld Expand Image
Advertisement

Most people’s idea of a great summer vacation doesn’t include being holed up in an abandoned research station in Nunavut while analyzing — and being analyzed by — half a dozen other psychologists. But Peter Suedfeld isn’t like most people.

Suedfeld, a Holocaust survivor who went on to become a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of British Columbia, became interested in how people cope with isolated, restricted, monotonous and low-stimulus environments. He began to study the effects solitary confinement had on prisoners, then expanded his focus to examining isolation in polar regions.

His research has taken him to both polar regions, including two trips to Nunvut’s Ellef Ringnes Island, where he and his colleagues ran two months of experiments on each other while completely isolated from the outside world at the abandoned Isachsen research station. Although the environment — misty, muddy and complete with abandoned vehicles and buildings — could have served as the setting for a horror movie, Suedfeld says the trip really wasn’t bad at all.

Suedfeld has always been interested in studying the physical characteristics of such harsh environments and their effects on people who spend time in them, so it seems natural that he has turned his attention to astronauts. And while he doesn’t think he’ll be able to organize a first-hand research trip to space, he still plans on getting near some of the Earth’s more isolated regions soon. “I think,” he says, “that I’m going to take my wife on a cruise to the Antarctic.”

Advertisement

Related Content

People & Culture

Kahkiihtwaam ee-pee-kiiweehtataahk: Bringing it back home again

The story of how a critically endangered Indigenous language can be saved

  • 6310 words
  • 26 minutes
A crowd of tourist swarm on a lakeside beach in Banff National Park

Places

Smother Nature: The struggle to protect Banff National Park

In Banff National Park, Alberta, as in protected areas across the country, managers find it difficult to balance the desire of people to experience wilderness with an imperative to conserve it

  • 3507 words
  • 15 minutes

People & Culture

Catherine McKenna on diversity in politics, internet trolls, and cold-water swimming

Episode 28

A century after the first woman was elected to the Canadian Parliament, one of the most prominent figures in present-day politics shares her thoughts on how to amplify diverse voices in the Commons

  • 22 minutes

Travel

How to stop a gold rush

The new movement building flourishing tourism hubs across Canada – one sustainable example at a time

  • 3297 words
  • 14 minutes