researchers were stranded on a
mountain. Digital tablets with topological maps weren’t always accurate. Some researchers’ technology
showed different landscapes from
others when they were looking at the
same patch of Mongolia.
Blomdin’s international team of
researchers was a supporting cast
of characters. Stockholm University
professor Arjen Stroeven is Blomdin’s
mentor. Professor Michael Walther
is a Mongolia aficionado and eccentric personality. Dmitry Petrakov, a
Moscow State University colleague
and geographer, provides a sort of
Russian-speaking safety net, but
when Petrakov has to suddenly
depart from the expedition, Blomdin
must think on his feet.
Blomdin’s frustrations and self-doubt during intensive research are
familiar to most PhD candidates. At
times, the young Swede sat in his tent
bleary-eyed, confessing to Stjärnljus’
“These boulders have been giving me nightmares, anxieties,”
Blomdin tells the camera while wearing a black Purdue baseball cap.
“You’re always thinking about
this: What’s the purpose of my
research? I think everyone — at least
once — has had a meltdown. Who
cares? Why spend five years doing
Although he has that PhD,
Blomdin’s research journey is far
from over. He is still writing up his
findings. Then it’s on to the next rung
of the academic ladder.
“I’m looking for jobs and writing
proposals,” Blomdin said on Feb. 10.