Elena Adasheva is an early career Polar social scientist and visual artist. She is committed to fostering intercultural communication and interdisciplinary collaborations in Polar research and education.

Research Interests: interdisciplinary studies of light and dark; environmental anthropology; environmental humanities; anthropology of infrastructure, electricity, and energy; governance; science diplomacy; anthropology and history of Polar expeditions; museum anthropology. 

Regional Interests: Polar Regions (the Arctic and Antarctic), Siberia

Currently, Elena is a PhD Candidate in Sociocultural Anthropology at Yale University. She is 2023-2024 Visiting Scholar at New York University and 2024 IASC-PA2F Fellow at the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation (PA2F).

Light and dark in the Polar regions is the topic of Elena’s current ethnographic research projects. Her dissertation, based on a nine-month fieldwork in the Arctic, explores human-environment relations, urban infrastructure, and energy governance in the Russian Arctic. Elena’s fieldwork was supported by the National Science Foundation and the American Councils for International Education. In 2023, Elena was one of the scientists selected to work on the ARICE-PONANT Polar Expedition Ship “Le Commandant Charcot” with her original research project, exploring perceptions of light in the Arctic landscape. 

Elena’s second research interest includes science diplomacy in the Arctic and Antarctic. This collaborative work aims to center non-state actors in the international Polar science, as opposed to nation-states, while regarding science diplomacy as serving and resulting from the production of scientific knowledge in the Polar environments. We ask: How do non-state actors continue cross-border collaborations in the time of global conflicts? What are the possibilities for cooperation between state and non-state actors in the Polar regions today?     

Elena is a board member of the USAPECS, a United States national committee of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS). In 2022, she represented APECS at the EU-PolarNet webinar “Who owns the Arctic? — an Introduction to Arctic Governance” together with Volker Rachold, head of the German Arctic Office at the Alfred Wegener Institute. Elena served as a grant application reviewer on the Icelandic Research Fund’s expert panel on social sciences, law, and educational sciences.     

Elena received the Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology Fellowship from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Eva Kastan Grove Fellowship from the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute in New York. 

She holds an MPhil in Sociocultural Anthropology from Yale University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Studio Art from Hunter College of the City University of New York where she was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. 

Elena is a founder of the Polar Research and Education Library (PREL), a special library focusing on social sciences and humanities of the Polar regions.  

Elena is a member of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).