Nacim Guellati: a student who leaves no stone unturned!

From January 5 to February 13, Nacim Guellati will be aboard theArctic Sunrise as an environmental DNA specialist. His mission: to identify the marine species present in Antarctica. Portrait of the very first UM student invited to take part in a Greenpeace mission. And what a mission it was!

It's neither by chance, nor through favoritism, that Nacim Guellati has been chosen by the MARBEC marine biology laboratory to climb aboard the famous Greenpeace ship. At the age of 22, this young man from Algiers, who arrived in Montpellier three years ago to pursue a degree in Ecology and Biology of Organisms (EBO), already boasts impressive experience for his age.

A fan of extreme sensations, he is an avid scuba diver, freedivers, combat sportsman and parachute jumper. A " physical stamina that is absolutely essential for this type of mission ", emphasizes David Mouillot, professor at the MARBEC laboratory and mission coordinator at the UM.

"Getting by with the bare minimum

When it comes to traveling, Nacim is no novice either. " I like to travel in somewhat extreme contexts and get by with the minimum. In particular, I've been to Iceland near the Arctic Circle in winter, so I can get a good idea of what conditions will be like there. " When he announced his departure for Antarctica, no one close to him was really surprised. "On the contrary, it made my parents laugh. They wonder why their son can't do things that are, let's say, 'more normal' ! "

A profile that has already earned him a place on last summer's Gombessa V mission. A 28-day expedition in the Mediterranean, initiated by Montpellier-based naturalist and documentary filmmaker Laurent Ballesta. "I was able to discover the day-to-day details of an expedition. It was interesting because beyond the scientific mission, we also had to ensure the media aspect with a film to shoot, so we had to constantly adapt to our daily lives."

Mastering techniques

While Nacim Guellati has all the hallmarks of the perfect adventurer, it is above all his scientific skills and mastery of environmental DNA techniques that have earned him a place on these incredible adventures. This know-how was acquired alongsideEmilie Boulanger, a doctoral student at the Centre d'écologie fonctionnelle et évolutive and the MARBEC laboratory, and Jean Baptiste Juhel, an engineer hired at MARBEC as part of a partnership with SpyGen (Companies on Campus). Nacim plans to follow this path by completing a master's degree in Ecology and Biodiversity Management Engineering (IEGB ) before going on to a doctorate.

To do this, he will have to pass his undergraduate exams a few weeks ahead of his fellow students: " All the teachers have been great, they've agreed to arrange my exams so that I can take them before I leave for Antarctica ".

With just a few weeks to go, the young biologist is looking forward to his expedition with serenity. The absence of night in these latitudes? The cold? Life on board? No, none of these things seem to worry Nacim, except for one thing: " I'm afraid I won't have enough time to take all the samples we need. No doubt, it will take more than an ice floe to temper the passion of this young science enthusiast.