UK Polar Network 2023 wrapped

The UK Polar Network (UKPN) have had a very busy 2023, so we felt it would be worth mentioning some of what we’ve been up to this year! Our outstanding committee members have been hard at work over the last 12 months delivering all of the work UKPN offers. 

The start of 2023 saw UKPN organise and deliver ‘Polar Pint of Science’, an event which brought scientists out of the lab/field/office and into the pub to chat about all things polar with budding members of the general public. Closely followed the Cardiff Science Festival which the UKPN were present at, providing scientific outreach to children in the capital of Wales. 

The middle of 2023 included the planning for upcoming events later in the year which would include: field courses, written evidence for an inquiry, conference and family events. August would soon come around, and the UKPN would become the focus of BBC News articles and stories which focussed on the Clean Planet Peninsula Dartmoor Training Course which was supported by the Clean Planet Foundation and UKPN. The training course would bring together early-career scientists to discuss and experience research projects and of course, the great British weather on Dartmoor!

By this point of the year, UKPN’s events were beginning to ramp-up with a new committee in place for September of 2023. At the same time, our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team were running a session at the Arctic Science Conference hosted at the British Antarctic Survey while preparing for an event in Durham in October. Later in November, our EDI team would be leading Polar Pride celebrations, a day to recognise our LGBTQ+ colleagues and reinforcing the message that polar science is open to everyone, every day. This would be later followed with UKPN committee members being invited to the ‘All-Party Parliamentary Group for Polar Regions’ lunch which discussed the Polar Pride initiative and diversity in polar science.

The Autumn of 2023 also saw the publication of the Environmental Audit Committee’s inquiry into the UK and the Arctic Environment which UKPN had submitted written evidence towards. The evidence submitted was included in the final report, citing our evidence on multiple occasions which we hope will influence funding opportunities, particularly for early-career researchers in the future!

Our annual Antarctic Flags programme was bigger than ever in 2023, with over 1000 flags from 290 schools going down south with scientists to Antarctica. This scheme invites schools to deliver lessons about Antarctica and once completed, students design a flag of what Antarctica means to them and what they have learnt. These flags are then forwarded to UKPN and distributed to scientists headed to the poles for a field-season and are pictured and sent back to the schools and their students (as pictured below).

At the end of November, UKPN returned to the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich to deliver polar outreach to families visiting the museum. The day saw UKPN volunteers engaging with museum visitors with our polar maps and climate change board game, as well as bringing along polar field gear, giving the visitors a taste of fieldwork and the kit involved!

All in all, 2023 has been a tremendously successful year for UKPN! Who knows what 2024 holds, but we have some exciting announcements to come next year which we look forward to sharing with you.

Everyone at UKPN wishes you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Reflection on 2021 from UKPN

A little later in the year than we initially planned, but we would still like to take a moment to record and share with you the highlights of all the UKPN activities in 2021. Granted, 2021 may have only been mildly better than 2020 in many respects, and we’ve still had to organise the majority of our events virtually, but we’ll present a few UK Polar Network related highlights here and let you decide for yourself. Stay tuned for our recent updates and future opportunities on our social media pages!

First of all, a new UKPN committee has been formed for the 2021/2022 academic year, and with 40 early career volunteers from across the UK, this is the largest committee in UKPN history! Because new committees can only be successful thanks to the work of past committees, we had our first President symposium in October 2021, in which we brought together committee representatives from more than 10 years of UKPN history (2008-2021) to exchange knowledge and ideas for future directions.

As always, the 2021 Antarctic flags project was very popular: 180 flags were submitted by schools from 9 different countries including Poland, Portugal, Hong Kong and Uganda! To date, 40 flags have been received back from teams who have taken them to Antarctica and more will follow as the Antarctic Summer season progresses. The flags taken down by the RRS Sir David Attenborough even included a fantastic letter from the crew members to the schools.

The Polar Pen Pals project allows students to send letters with questions to polar researchers on subjects that they are currently studying, such as meteorology, zoology and glaciology. So far, 30 schools have signed up, and 6 requests for Skype or in person conferences have been received. 

The 2021 Polar Pride day was a huge success – and an absolute 2021 UKPN highlight! Social media posts about polar pride day reached an audience of 35.7 million people in 70 countries and 14 published news items mentioning Polar Pride reached about 15.7 million people.

The UKPN also organised three online Polar Pint of Science shows in collaboration with the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) and Pint of Science. The shows ran over three weeks in October in the run-up to COP26 and all three shows had well over 100 live viewers and a total of 2000 views on Youtube. The episodes (Exploration Untold, The Polar Connection: linking past to future, A roadmap for the future: empowering the globe to save the poles) are still available on Youtube, so do have a look!

In collaboration with the National Maritime Museum (NMM) we organised workshops and activities during the Ice Worlds festival in October 2021. Thanks to the excellent work of our 8 ECR volunteers, the workshops such as “make your own polar animal”, “build a glacier”, “polar foodwebs” and “where did the Titanic sink?” received visitors who even returned to the NMM within the 4-day period to attend the workshops for a second time! Sorry you missed it? We will be collaborating with the NMM on other outreach events in the future!

Three webinars were hosted by the Arctic Sciences Priorities (ASPP) UK-Russia early-career researchers’ collaborations for future sustainability in 2021 and 4 more webinars will follow in 2022. Each webinar is live, and involves a discussion (in both English and Russian) and/or presentations on the various challenges faced by UK-Russia scientific collaborations and how to tackle them. You can re-view past webinars on Youtube: Collaborations matter: a webinar on UK-Russia collaborations in Arctic Science, Starting points: funding and networks, You-me understand: how to overcome cultural and language barriers. Or sign up for future webinars through our mailing list and the UK-Russia collaboration website.

The UKPN has also co-organised and attended a number of conferences in 2021 including:

  • the Polar Early Career Conference in May 2021, which was led entirely by ECRs, involved 400 attendees and over 100 presentations and included sessions on various Polar science disciplines, as well as employability workshops, and EDI session, and panels on local knowledge exchange and the impacts of COVID and Brexit on research (which resulted in a Nature article – see also our blogpost on this).
  • The ATOM Science Festival in Oxford, with digital activities, quizzes and QR codes which linked to videos on polar research to accompany a treasure hunt around Oxford.
  • In addition to this, talks which were given, posters presented and workshops co-organised at the Virtual Early Career Ocean Professionals Day 2021, the 2021 Arctic Circle Assembly and the Svalbard Science Forum.

The UKPN organised an online visual design course for early career scientists. During the  one-day course which was given by Infohackit, 24 ECRs learned essential design skills for making science infographics. Hopefully in 2022 we will be able to organise more training courses for our members!

Some other important 2021 highlights included the renovation of our website – doesn’t it look amazing now? - increased collaboration with the newly formed APECS Iceland committee, and support from our EDI officers to various Polar Science networks and activities.

With that, we would like to give a huge applause to our 2020-2021 committee members and the numerous early career scientist volunteers from the UKPN network who have made all of this possible. And we look forward to an equally exciting 2022: note down the Cardiff Science Festival (19 & 20 February) and the Cheltenham Science Festival (June 10th) in your agenda’s, and watch this space (or our newsletter and social media accounts) for more to come!


Antarctica Day Quiz registration now live - 1 December 7pm!

Dear All,

We are happy to announce that the UKPN has an exciting Antarctica Day Quiz running this year!

Antarctica Day has been celebrated since 2010 to commemorate the signing of the Antarctic Treaty on 1st December 1959. So, grab a pint, a penguin, and some pals and join us on 1st Dec at 19:00 GMT on zoom.

You can register with a team of max 5 people (all participating virtually, one registration per team): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/antarctica-day-quiz-tickets-130384378185?fbclid=IwAR2WGGt898lezDEykuU-VzsIftRtfRX81rDOF1jdlgUHzSs9X--_HvuCw0k

Photo courtesy Stas Zakharov


Committee positions available!

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It's the time of year where we recruit new committee members for the 2020/21 term. The positions we have available are outlined below with short descriptions. We welcome a diverse range of people, and all you need is some enthusiasm! Traditionally the majority of the committee are PhD students, but Post-docs, Masters Students, and non-academics are always very welcome too.

Being a part of the UKPN committee is a great way to expand your Polar network, hear about unique opportunities first and develop your soft skills, and of course, it’s a lot of fun! We get a great bunch of people every year, and they represent the UKPN at national and international events alongside local officials, governments, and leading scientists. Each role will have a handover from the previous committee member and the new president and the committee will support each committee member in their role. Roles are flexible with the amount of time they need as they are seasonal, but as a ball-park, plan for two hours per week in addition to the bimonthly meeting. The time can fit into your own schedule, and the more time you have to spare, the more you can volunteer for additional tasks.

Please email president@polarnetwork.org by the 21st of August with a brief description of why you would like to take the role on. Any questions are welcomed too.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) officer

  • To monitor and increase EDI both within our organisation and within STEM as a field. Will work closely with education and outreach to run a mentorship scheme, fund prospective students to attend university open days, and host undergraduates within our member’s institution. Will work on linking with universities across the UK to create a diversity network.
  • The officer will be supported for the first six months by the Diversity in Polar Science Initiative, introduced to the relevant senior officials, and be supported by the UKPN EDI team.

Education & Outreach: festivals

  • Organise UKPN attendance at two UK festivals (e.g. Edinburgh festival, Bristol festival of nature), including applying for spot at festival, finding volunteers, planning activities and running stall at festival.
  • This is a joint role with one of our reps staying on from last year, giving a head start in terms of planning.

Education & Outreach: Antarctic Flags

  • A highly successful outreach activity where schools design flags for the Antarctic continent which are then sent south to researchers. This role will be to co-ordinate and deliver this project (registration of schools via google form, finding Antarcticans to take flags (electronically), and collating and sending back photos to schools).

Education and Outreach: Pint of Science

  • To organise a Pint of Science event - an informal series of interesting talks by researchers in a pub setting -  spanning three cities.
  • These events have been highly successful over the last few years, and tickets have not been difficult to sell.

Social media 

  • Manage our social media communications as well as the UKPN blog. We communicate through a large variety of channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Social media: website

  • UK Polar network WordPress posting, and updating website with events, news, etc.

Introducing UKPN committee 2019/2020

With the beginning of the new year and new decade, we realised that we still haven't properly introduced our new UKPN committee that came into power in September 2019 and will be in charge for most of the 2020! Which is why we started weekly posts in our instagram featuring members of our diverse and multi-talented committee. The whole list of the current committee is also available on our website as well as former committee lists. 

If you are interested in joining, even in the mid-term, don't hesitate to contact us!

 


Volunteers needed!

The UKPN committee 2019/20 are looking for enthusiastic volunteers to fill our last remaining position as a festival coordinator.

Don’t miss the chance to get involved!