Both Chase and Kate are second-year undergraduate historians at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. One is a historian of empire. The other is a medievalist. But they have put aside their historical differences to brave the chilly challenges of Iceland.

Chase Caldwell Smith, Expedition Leader


Chase will be leading the Cambridge Hringvegurinn Expedition. His past expedition experience centers on his role as Publicity Officer and Recorder on the 2015 Cambridge University Expedition to the Cordillera Blanca, a research project to the Peruvian Andes which investigated intra-household (gender and age) perceptions of water management, in the context of rapid climate change. His jobs included producing posters and maintaining the website for the project, as well as keeping a detailed expedition journal of the journey, which is in the process of being uploaded online from its handwritten form. In Peru, Chase assisted in the conducting of research interviews, largely in Spanish, and gained transcription experience afterward.

Chase currently serves as secretary for CUEX, the Cambridge University Expeditions Society, where he spends his time adding and subtracting email addresses from the mailing list with glee. Beyond the society, he sings as a bass choral scholar in Caius Choir and as a reluctant countertenor in the a capella group Caius Men, serves as outgoing President of the Cambridge University American Society, and dabbles in musical theater. In a past life he worked as a student journalist, editing Interviews, Features, and Comment sections for The Cambridge Student. When not preparing for Iceland, he theoretically has a history degree to work toward, with interests ranging from imperial and global history, to cartography, nationalism, and religious conversion. Absolutely none of this will help if his bike gears break in the wilderness of Iceland.

Kate Ellison, Medical Officer


Kate will be acting as Medical Officer during the Hringvegurinn Expedition. This is her first university expedition and she is very excited to take part in the challenge. Kate has previously participated in an adventure to Mexico in 2012, which visited Our Cabana in Cuernavaca, one of the four World Guiding Centres. She was involved in planning the logistics of the trip and in personal and group fundraising challenges. While in Cuernavaca, she and her Guiding group worked with the local charity VAMOS, a group which provides meals, medical services, and education to some of the poorest people in and around the city. The team brought medical and education supplies, redecorated a schoolroom, and were able to run activities with some of the children who were there for the day.

Kate, in addition to her interest in the work of OCD Action, volunteers locally in Cambridge. She has helped to organise events for the university Save the Children Society and works in a local Brownie unit as a leader. She too has dabbled in student journalism, editing Features for The Cambridge Student, and on occasion can be seen running around a basketball court for Caius Women, although not necessarily with any great direction. Kate acts as an additional clerk for the chapel of Gonville and Caius. She also volunteers in the Caius Archives as part of her interest in medieval history and has recently become Library Officer for the college’s Student Union. Her main academic interests lie in medieval social history, particularly that of the religious culture surrounding death, a cheering topic that will no doubt make the long Icelandic days fly by.