Interventions to prevent pandemic-driven diversity loss

The Polar Early Career Conference held by the UK Polar Network (UKPN) in May 2021 presented an opportunity to discuss a range of issues affecting early career polar scientists. As part of this conference a panel was held on “Adapting a project post-lockdown”, bringing together PhD students from UK institutions, representing the full diversity of polar topics, from remote sensing, to oceanography, glaciology and social sciences. Writing this post in December 2021, the phrase “post-lockdown” seems rather optimistic in retrospect, however the panel event was well attended and raised a range of issues related to COVID-19 beyond the material impact on research. Panellists and attendees commented on their concerns about career progression, fieldwork cancellations, networking, funding extensions, and the disproportionate impacts on minority groups and international students. Following the conference panel, we noted how we hadn’t seen the issues we raised in the session mentioned elsewhere. The specific impact of COVID on early career scientists, because of the vulnerability of our career stage, meant that only we could accurately comment on how the pandemic had impacted us. To put it simply, if we didn’t speak out about how we had been affected, nobody was going to do it for us. As a team who had been brought together by the UKPN conference we decided to continue this partnership to turn our discussion in to a paper, as a permanent record of our concerns. Over several months we worked with an editor to draft multiple versions of the paper, which, with quite a small word limit, proved to be a rather challenging job. We also welcomed new authors to ensure we captured the full early career perspective by including postdoctoral researchers as well. Our comment  “Interventions to prevent pandemic-driven diversity loss” was published in Nature’s Communications Earth & Environment journal in November 2021 and had been accessed over 1000 times in the first week! The authorship team are grateful to the UKPN for bringing us together from our individual disciplines to form a team and put forward this commentary, which we hope speaks broadly to the experience of all pandemic impacted polar early career scientists.

This contribution is a guest blog post from Ben Fisher & co-authors.


Polar Pride Day 2021

Poster for Polar Pride Day 2021

Seals of Antarctica

It is only two days left before the Antarctica day and today we want to share beautiful pictures of most amusing marine mammals by talented wildlife photographer Stas Zakharov: the Antarctica seals. There are 6 species of seals in Antarctica, including Antarctic Fur Seals, Leopard Seals, Ross Seals, Crabeater Seals and Weddell Seals, and these 6 species apparently make up the majority of all seals on earth. 

Weddell seals Leptonychotes weddellii at the Lemaire Channel

Antarctic fur seal Arctocephalus gazella, South Shetland Islands

Check out our Instagram;Twitter and Facebook for more posts and definitely check out @stas_zakharov_photo for more seals! 


The race to the pole - glance into history of Antarctic exploration

Today's  post features history of exploration of the South Pole - fascinating and dramatic story of rivalry between the two expeditions.

"I am just going outside and I may be some time - he went out into the blizzard and we have not seen him since” From Scott’s diaries, 1912

Amundsen's South Pole expedition. Image from: https://nationalpostcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/8-5_amundsens_group_at_pole_flag_flying1.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=780

Beginning of the 20th century was an era of polar exploration also known as Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. One of the key figures in the world’s history of polar exploration undoubtedly is Roald Amundsen who first reached the South Pole by land in 1911 and also led the first expedition that first reached the North Pole by air in 1926 (on-board the airship Norge).  Amundsen and Oscar Wisting were the first men to have reached both geographical poles. But behind this simple date stands complicated and dramatic history of numerous attempts to be the first to reach the center of either hemispheres, history that carried away lives of many noble researchers, including Robert Falcon Scott's entire party who died on their return journey from the South Pole where they found Norwegian flag deployed 34 days before Scott’s expedition arrival. The rivalry between British and Norwegian expeditions, led by Scott and Amundsen respectively, is perhaps one of the most dramatic events in the history of discoveries.

Read more about the race to the pole, details and differences between the two expeditions at: 


Antarctic Treaty

Antarctica day: Antarctic Treaty

Map of Antarctica with the flags of the Antarctic Treaty nations. Photo from: https://www.bas.ac.uk

The Antarctic treaty is an international agreement that sets aside the entire Antarctica continent as a scientific preserve devoted to peace and science “forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes in the interest of mankind”. The treaty ensured freedom of scientific investigation and ban of military activities on the continent. It was the first nuclear-arms agreement and the first institution to govern all human activities in an international region with no sovereign jurisdiction. The treaty remains a unique and inspiring example of international collaboration and implementation of the common heritage of mankind principle. 

Signed on December 1, 1959 in Washington, D.C., United States it came into force in 1961 and currently has 54 member parties 29 of which, including all 12 original signatories to the treaty, have voting status (the latest status list as of April 2019 is available via the link). The twelve countries that were the original signatories are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All member parties implement the articles of the Treaty through their national laws. The Antarctic Treaty System holds yearly Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings (ATCM) and has an Antarctic Treaty Secretariat that facilitates and supports the ATCMs.

The treaty consists of 14 Articles and is available in English; French; Russian and Spanish.

Read more about the Treaty on the website of the British Antarctic Survey: https://www.bas.ac.uk/about/antarctica/the-antarctic-treaty/  

#AntarcticaDay2019_UKPN 

 


Antarctica Day 2019

Antarctica Day is celebrated on the 1st of December every year since 2010, when it was established to commemorate the signature of the Antarctic Treaty on 1st December 1959.

Antarctica Day was initiated by the Foundation for the Good Governance of International Spaces (www.ourspaces.org.uk) with aims of building global awareness of this landmark institution, and celebrating this milestone of peace in our civilization with hope and inspiration for future generations.

Flag of the Antarctic Treaty, source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/68/Flag_of_the_Antarctic_Treaty.svg/400px-Flag_of_the_Antarctic_Treaty.svg.png

Antarctica Day 2019 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Antarctic treaty. To celebrate this we launch the #AntarcticaDay2019_UKPN media campaign with a series of historic overview posts, photos and insights from current fieldwork in Antarctica.

Follow us on Instagram: @ukpolarnetwork;Twitter: @UKPolarNetwork and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ukpolarnetwork/ for more updates! 


UK-Russia science session at Arctic Science Summit Week

UK-Russia Arctic Scientific Cooperation: Towards a Better Understanding of the Changing Arctic
Time: Friday, 24 May, 14:00 – 15:30
Venue: Northern Arctic Federal University, Room 11220 (Academic Board Room, 2nd floor, Arkhangelsk, Russia
Organisers: UK Science and Innovation Network in Russia (SIN Russia) & the NERC Arctic Office

The UK and Russian science communities have long-standing research cooperation on climate change in the Arctic. Over the past two years this cooperation has been marked by exciting new developments: dynamic bilateral projects, workshops, conferences and initiatives, with a special focus on early career links and institutional partnerships. These scientific partnerships are helping to advance our understanding of the changing Arctic and the global implications of these changes: from northern forests and palaeoenvironmental studies to terrestrial and marine ecosystems, to adaptation of local communities. Join our session at Arctic Science Summit Week 2019 to learn more about recent UK-Russia scientific work and explore what further wider collaborative research opportunities might look like.

Co-Chairs
• Henry Burgess, Head of the NERC Arctic Office, IASC Vice-President
• Dr Marina Kalinina, Adviser to the Rector, Northern Arctic Federal University (NArFU), Arkhangelsk; Vice-President on Interregional Cooperation at the University of the Arctic

Speakers
• Prof. Mary Edwards, University of Southampton, UK-Siberia scientific working group (DIMA)
• Dr Marina Kalinina, Adviser to the Rector, Northern Arctic Federal University (NArFU), Arkhangelsk; Vice-President on Interregional Cooperation at the University of the Arctic
• Dr Rachael Turton, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
• Dr Olga Tutubalina, Faculty of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University
• Yulia Zaika, President of the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists Russia (APECS Russia)
• Saule Akmetkaliyeva, UK Polar Network, Manchester Metropolitan University


Polar Software Workshop and Hackathon

Training the next generation of polar scientists in software sustainability

Organised in collaboration with the UK Polar Network and the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) UCL, more than 20 early career polar scientists were given the opportunity to improve their software skills during an interactive workshop. As with many scientific disciplines within polar sciences we have our software heroes with the opensouce code stored in github… and we have those who would never dream of sharing their code. There are, however, many who would like to fit into the first category and to be more open but are concerned about sharing their code. It was this group that we aimed to help, as well as those who would like to learn better practices in writing and developing their software.

The UCL Earth Sciences deinonychus ready to welcome participants to the workshop.

Several SSI fellows provided invaluable help on the day, not only through delivering their own sessions but also staying around and helping participants through the other practical sessions. Adam Jackson kicked off the day with an introduction to open science and sustainable software, and David Perez-Suarez and Yo Yehudi ran hugely successful workshops on testing and open scientific code through github respectively.

SSI Fellow Adam Jackson kicks off the day with an introduction to open science and sustainable software.

In addition to this training we had two speakers from industry who demonstrated that their software skills have transferred to careers outside of academia: Ruari Rhodes (Hiscox) spoke to us and Sam Thomas (Zopa) shared some of his wisdom from his previous work in academia. We were also fortunate enough to have an interlude from the coding from UCL’s Professor Chris Rapley who shared his extensive knowledge on climate change communication, setting us up nicely for the following day’s hackday.

Workshop particpants get to grip with David Perez-Suarez’s testing session.

The UK’s First Polar Hackathon?

Following the training workshop, many of the participants returned to participate in (as far as we are aware!) the UK’s first polar science hackathon. We were joined by participants from Airbus and other departments from UCL (physics and geography) to work on a variety of problems, including machine learning, shipping routes through the Arctic and extreme events in Greenland.

Projects were judged by popular vote, with a focus on open science, collaboration within the team, as well as results found during the day. Prizes for the hackathon were generously provided by Indorse.

A welcome pizza break from coding during the hackathon.
We will share results of this workshop with the international earth sciences community at December’s American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting. We would like to thank the Software Sustainability Institute for providing funding for this workshop through my fellowship fund as well as the Association for Early Career Polar Scientists for additional travel support and endorse for sponsoring our Hackday. 
 
The resources from the workshop are available here: 
 
Adam Jackson (UCL)- Open science and sustainable software presentation source files
 
David Perez-Suarez (UCL)- Testing, Testing, One, Two… slides repository 
 
Ruari Rhodes (Hiscox)- Multi-lingual workflow and spatial data resources 
 
Yo Yehudi (InterMine, University of Cambridge)- Open Scientific Code using Git and GitHub materials slides 
 
Chris Rapley (UCL)- Climate Change- Delivering Value slides

ICE – Making in Transit Event Series and Exhibition Opening

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

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Poster Workshop at the Challenger Conference for Marine Science 2016

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.

ukpn-bad-poster-example
ukpn-better-poster-example

 

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 kyle.mayers@soton.ac.uk