Dr Léonie Suter grew up in Basel, Switzerland, where she developed an early passion for exploration in the form of ancient history and the lost languages. Nature and adventure travel, however, were to become more important. Before starting university she worked in the outdoors as a gardener on a cemetery, ski instructor in the Swiss Alps and traveled widely in Central America. She then focused on studying biology at the ETH Zürich to learn how life works. There she also worked with students on botanical excursions to the Swiss Alps. After completing her Bachelor of Science she took a break from university and embarked upon a research project in the Seychelles Islands where she studied the effect of fire on the native vegetation on the Island Praslin and enjoyed the relaxed island life. After soaking in the sun of the Indian Ocean she returned to her studies and completed her Masters of Science degree in the famous Kew Gardens of London where she worked on reproductive isolation and sex chromosome evolution of two European poplar species. During this time she fell in love with Science and decided to continue in this field with a PhD. However, first she needed to satisfy her need for traveling and a little adventure, so after completing her Master of Science she bought a round-the-world plane ticket and left for Australia, New Zealand, South America and Antarctica. During this journey she traveled by bus, train, car, boat and, after she met Patrick in Ushuaia, Argentina, on the back of a motorbike. At the moment she is conducting her doctoral research at the ETH Zürich on epigenetics in plants, to find out whether plants can adapt to changing environments within very few generations and without altering their DNA sequence. Just two weeks before boarding Widdershins she successfully finished her thesis to become an full-time adventurer, sailing from pole to pole.
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