His first visit to a scientific camp on the Greenland ice sheet was, in his words, “a life-changer”, cementing his determination to illuminate the unseen world of ice microbiology with the light of science.
Cook, who was born on 23 November 1986, graduated in physical geography from the University of Sheffield in 2008, before doing his PhD in microbial carbon dynamics on glaciers and ice sheets. In 2013, he joined the University of Derby as lecturer in geoscience. In 2016, he returned to the University of Sheffield as a full-time research scientist. He has won more than a dozen awards, grants and scholarships, has published prolifically on glacial biology, and is an eloquent and passionate communicator of his research to the public.
Part of his Rolex Award will fund the making of a documentary film, Ice Alive, a sequel to his prize-winning short film, Life on Earth’s Cold Shoulder. He is already arranging public lectures, feature articles, museum exhibits and collaborations with artists and writers to share with the public the fascinating and fragile miniature world of Arctic microorganisms.