National Geographic Expert

Erin Pettit

For nearly three decades, polar explorer and scientist Erin Pettit has been studying ice flow within Earth’s giant ice caps, as well as in mountain glaciers around the world. As a professor of geophysics and glaciology at Oregon State University, Erin has embarked on more than a dozen research expeditions to Antarctica, where she leads teams working to unravel the mysteries surrounding ice shelf collapse, climate change and rising sea levels. Using advanced tools such as ground-penetrating radar and ocean acoustics, she probes deep beneath the surface of ice and rock to sense and monitor changing landscapes. Her recent work on the Thwaites Glacier—also known as the “Doomsday Glacier”—was highlighted in Scientific American and will be featured in an upcoming film on the subject.

As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and WINGS WorldQuest Fellow, Erin loves sharing her stories of scientific discoveries to inspire others. Embracing the intersection of art and science, she collaborated with artists to create Inspiring Girls Expeditions, a program for teens that encourages curiosity, bravery, and leadership with the hope of building a more inclusive and equitable society. When not on a glacier, Erin is running through the mountains, sculpting with clay in her pottery studio or sailing with her family.

My upcoming expeditions