By Maddie Brasier.
I’ve been a member of the UKPN for 5 years now, I joined the committee as the education and outreach officer in 2013 and have since helped organise and lead outreach activities across the UK. The network and its meetings have been a great source of peer networks throughout my PhD and I was most grateful to receive a UKPN donation toward my Homeward Bound Expedition to Antarctica this year.
Homeward Bound is an international leadership initiative for women in science, the programme is delivered over a 12-month period training the participants in science communication, leadership, personal strategy and visibility, culminating with a three-week expedition to Antarctica. A total of 78 women from 14 different counties and different STEM fields took part in the expedition which visited Antarctica in February-March 2018.
During the expedition I could network with the other Homeward Bound participants, gaining contacts around the globe and insight into different scientific disciplines including conservation, policy, education and sustainable technologies. This was an amazing experience and opportunity. Science working groups within the 2018 cohort are now planning initiatives to help improve the gender gap in science, reduce our impact on the planet and raise awareness of climate change.
Antarctica was chosen as the backdrop of Homeward Bound because of its isolation and vulnerability. Training in this environment, removed from everyday life and communications, where our impact of climate change is so visibile, underlines the growing need for international collaboration to help future generations live more sustainably. During the expedition we visited 4 different research bases; Carlini (Argentina), Great Wall (China), Palmer (USA) and Rothera (UK) as well as sites of historical importance; Port Lockroy and Base Y (British) and other locations of biological interest.
As many UKPN members will be aware, visiting the polar regions is a unique and very moving experience. Being able to visit so many bases is also very rare. Having studied Antarctic biology for the last 6 years during my masters and PhD, I was really excited to see Antarctic science in action and learn more about operations in the field. These insights will feed back into future outreach work, helping to inspire young peoples into STEM subjects.
Once again I am really grateful for the support of the UKPN and as I move onto the next stage of my career (I finished my PhD 3 weeks before my expedition), I hope to take these newly acquired skills into my future work. The Homeward Bound program is a 10 year initiative and for any UKPN members or followers thinking of applying, I am more than happy to discuss my experience of the programme and help with applications.
If you wish to contact Maddie please email her at
The UKPN donation came from an education and outreach grant from the British Antarctic Territory department of the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
More information on the Homeward Bound expedition can be found here
On 1-2 March the 1st UK-Russia Arctic Early Career Researcher Workshop will be hosted at Moscow State University hosted by the Faculty of Geography and Marine Research Center. The event is organised by the NERC Arctic Office and the UK Science and Innovation Network in Russia, in partnership with the UK Polar Network and the National Committee of the Association of Early Career Polar Researchers in Russia.
The event is aimed at building practical connections between early career researchers from the United Kingdom and Russia, with the aim of promoting international scientific cooperation and identifying avenues for future joint UK-Russia Arctic research.
The programme of the workshop features a series of presentations from participants, discussions in break-out groups and visits.
The event will be held under the UK-Russia Year of Science and Education 2017.
The UK Polar Network invites applications from UK-based early career researchers (from PhD level to 10 years post-PhD) to participate in and foster research links through collaborative workshops in the Russian Arctic.
These events are in collaboration with the UK Science & Innovation Network, APECS Russia, NERC Arctic Office and Lomonosov Moscow State University.
Workshops will be held at Moscow and Cambridge with travel and accommodation support available.
Application deadline is 5th January, 2018 and any additional enquiries can be addressed to the NERC Arctic Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Download application form and return with a 1 page CV to email@example.com
On Wednesday 20th September, during the UK Arctic Sciences Conference, the UK Polar Network will host an early career panel event. The theme will be "International Collaboration" to tie in with the theme of this years Polar Week, organised by APECS.
The panel will be held between 18:30 and 19:30 in the Oban Inn (Stafford Street, Oban). We will be at the venue from 18:00 to 20:00, and food will be available to order at the bar.
Panellists include Dr Jon Cohen (University of Delaware), Dr Helen Findlay (Plymouth Marine Laboratories), Dr Tom Brown (Scottish Association for Marine Science), Dr Jo Browse (University of Exeter), and Henry Burgess (UK Arctic Office).
Please join us for this early career event (generally undergraduate to post-doctorate level, but we're not very exclusive). Contact Laura Hobbs (laura.hobbs at sams.ac.uk) for more information.
During the recent BAS workshop in Cambridge the UKPN facilitated a competition for a polar science outreach proposal. The project "Sounds of Change: Greenland Ice Sheet Melt" was picked for it's original idea. We wish to congratulate Heather Bell (Durham University), Joseph Nolan (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research), and Zuzanna Swirad (Durham University) for this achievement and we are looking forward to support their efforts realising the proposed project.
The project aims to produce an open access digital soundscape documenting the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The project organisers plan on using mostly ambient noise which has already been recorded and is available in archives and from polar researchers who undertake fieldwork in Greenland. The soundscape will travel from the interior of the ice sheet following researchers in the field, on a route out to the ocean with the sounds of rivers in flood, iceberg calving events and the impacts that the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet is having on local inhabitants. They hope that this resource will be used in schools and alongside museum or art exhibits.
Please get in touch with the UKPN or the project leaders if you have some interesting recordings you wish contribute to this exciting project or would be willing to document some soundscapes during your upcoming research trip.
Post by Julia Feuer-Cotter
This event, which was coordinated by artist Jennifer Crouch, was the first in a series of unique and diverse evenings that explore the topic of ice. Jennifer’s Arctic Circle Residency in the Norwegian island group Svalbard was inspired by indigenous craft in action and her acts of making and interacting with the land, and ice in particular. The event was hosted at the Cube in Shoreditch, London on the evening of December 08, 2016.
The evening was kickstarted by a hands-on painting session using a variety of frozen inks and salt to create an on-going collaboration between the visitors and Jennifer. The artist exhibited a variety of pieces that reflected on her time in Svalbard and amongst others utilised maps, textiles, and wood to engagement with experiences of ice.
During the evening geographer Julia Feuer-Cotter (UK Polar Network & University of Nottingham) discussed the geographical realities and imaginings of the Arctic using smell and sensory memories and especially focused on the perception of environmental change through odours. The theoretical physicist Gabriele Cesare Sosso (UCL & London Centre for Nanotechnology) explained the exciting microscopic differences that are responsible for various forms of ice we engage in the Arctic. A completely different pole, and interestingly one that appears in a hexagonal shape, was introduced by Ellie Armstrong (Oxford University). Her talk focused on the pole of the planet Saturn and it’s unique cloud pattern.
The event was accompanied by an ice-cream-making demonstration that not just made the place smell fantastic, but also explored the physics of crystallisation and the historic production of ice cream in England. After learning that in eighteenth century England ice was brought from glaciers and icebergs to create the treat, tasting the created ice cream was much encouraged.
Find out more about Jennifer’s event series at www.makingintransit.com
Post written by Julia Feuer-Cotter
At the Challenger Society for Marine Science conference in September 2016, the UK Polar Network ran a workshop for early career scientists on making and presenting good scientific posters. The event was attended by over 50 people and we had a panel including Dr. Yvonne Firing (National Oceanography Centre Southampton) and Dr. Sian Henley (Univ. of Edinburgh).
The workshop began with a few hints on what makes a good poster; attractive, clear visible title, easily readable without large amounts of text, clear diagrams and not overcomplicated. We then showcased some examples of winning posters. Sian Henley bravely slipped her poster into the session for anonymous criticism. It became clear during this that while there are many different opinions on what makes a “great” poster, there was aspects which people didn’t like. It is important to consider the type of conference you are at (Is your poster up all week?) and your audience.
The UK Polar Network also provided two poster examples, one which was obviously “bad” and the other which was an improved version of the same (fake) research about moving polar bears to the Antarctic to cope with a declining sea ice environment and loss of food. You can see both of these examples below, hopefully which one is bad and improved is obvious to you.
Before our panel discussion we went through a few other ideas for making a great poster, some of these are:
- Keep text to <800 words
- Have handouts available (also if you print your poster on A4 you should be able to read it)
- Avoid dark backgrounds and consider colour blindness!
- Use other media tools, if you have a video think about having a tablet
There were also some good tips for presenting a poster, a few unique suggestions also:
- Keep hands out of pockets and don’t chew gum
- Talk to your audience, not to the poster (it doesn’t care)
- Keep sweets or chocolates with you, it will draw people in
- Make a t shirt advertising your poster, or even put your most interesting figure on it
- Don’t wear sunglasses inside, people will assume you are hungover, high or both
During the panel discussion a lively debate occurred on the consumption of alcohol during poster sessions. Some were in favour, some were not, however everyone agreed that over-consumption was bad, and you shouldn’t be slurring and spilling drink on your poster (or worse your audience)!
Overall, the event went well with plenty of discussion and participation from the audience. We hope that people take away some of the hints and tips provided, and we look forward to seeing some excellent posters at the next Challenger Conference!
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org