Homeward Bound expedition

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 mjbrasier90@gmail.com

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

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