As part of its Digital Discussion Series, United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) is carrying out a series of interviews with top female scientists who took part in the Homeward Bound Expedition to Antarctica in December 2016- including Carol Devine, Holly North, Lauren DuBois, Phoebe Barnard, Cristina Venables, Meredith Nash and Denise Hardesty.
The 20-day voyage, Homeward Bound, was the first of its kind to the Antarctic. Its principal purpose was to elevate the leadership role of women in science, especially in the areas of sustainability and climate change, and to eventually have more women with a seat at the table of some of the most important decision-making tables in science and science policy, globally.
Fabian Dattner pioneered the initiative after previously meeting with a group of 23 female scientists who felt that globally women's expertise in science is often underutilized compared to senior male leaders who often get more opportunities even with lower levels of experience. Concurring with Fabian about women's inclusion in science, Homeward Bound co-founder Jess Melbourne-Thomas, a marine ecologist in Tasmania stated: "Women have a different way of thinking about how science can influence policies around protecting the planet. We need to be at the table". The expedition therefore provided a platform for the participating female scientists to come up with ways of elevating the status of other female scientists across the world to curb global warming and protect our planet sustainably.
Meet UNAI's Homeward Bound interviewees:
Carol Devine is a writer, researcher and humanitarian who is passionate about tackling global issues hinged on exclusion on the basis of gender, race and geography. She led the first Antarctic ecological civilain clean-up expeditions in 1995 and 1996 with The Polish Academy of Sciences and The Russian Antarctic Expedition. She advises Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada and has worked for MSF in Rwanda, East Timor and Southern Sudan. Carol has presented to WTO and the Canadian Parliament as one of MSF's global access to essential medicines campaigners. She has run human rights courses in Asia-Pacific with the Diplomacy Training Program, the University of New South Wales and consulted for Dignitas International and the Stephen Lewis Foundation. She was a special advisor when the Museum of AIDS in Africa was launched. Carol has written a number of articles and books. Her small press, Vauve Press, produced the book entitled Determination: Tibetan Women and the Struggle for an Independent Tibet. Some of her other well-known works include: The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning and Human Rights: The Essential Reference. She has also written for Border Crossing, Wallpaper, Canadian Circumpolar Health Network, Calvert Journal, The Medical Post, Australian Style and Vogue Entertaining and Travel. Listen to her UNAI interview here.
Holly North has been a ranger for six years of her 14-year career with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW-NPWS) in Australia. During her tenure, she has worked as a technical officer, air observer, mapper, Planning and Geographical Information Systems and fire management officer. Holly's day-to-day role involves pest and fire, marine mammals and reptile incident as well as cultural heritage management. Her most prominent projects are fox control and monitoring shorebird nests along the 80km coastline. Holly believes that the current management of protected areas will inspire young rangers in African, Asian and Latin American countries to follow the example set by conservationists in developed countries, to protect parks more effectively in the future. She is also passionate about the need to manage habitat connectivity and biodiversity conservation so that native plants and animals can adapt to climate change and avoid their extinction. Listen to her UNAI interview here.
Lauren DuBois is the assistant curator of birds at SeaWorld in San Diego, USA, where she helps raise penguin chicks. She now takes care of the only colony of Emperor penguins in North America and builds her career working with a variety of species of birds like waterfowl, parrots, flamingos and puffins. She also played an important role in the first successful artificial insemination of a penguin in captivity. She participated in the Treasure oil spill clean-up in 2000, by caring for 40,000 penguins and 700 penguin chicks. She is passionate about making a difference to preserve our planet sustainably. Listen to her UNAI interview here.
Phoebe Barnard, the executive director of the Pacific Biodiversity Institute in USA and Argentina, is a conservation and global change biologist, behavioural ecologist and sustainability strategist. Her multidisciplinary career path has seen her engaged in scientific, academic as well as national and international policy arenas. Aside from her new role as executive director of the Pacific Biodiversity Institute, she was the lead scientist in the area of Climate Change BioAdaptation and the Head of Biodiversity Futures at the South African National Biodiversity Institute. Phoebe is also an affiliate professor of conservation biology at the University of Washington. Listen to her UNAI interview here.
Cristina Venables previously served as a regional operations officer in with New South Wales Environment Protection Authority, where she would consult with the community, industry, businesses and government in order to manage environmental issues and deliver outcomes. Prior to that, in her role as an Evidence Analyst in Environmental Evidence Australia, she was responsible for utilising existing sources of evidence to enable greater transparency, accountability, and effectiveness in planning and decision making so as to improve environmental outcomes and reduce related economic risks. Cristina is currently an Environmental Water Planner at the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, where she guides the management of fresh water in the Murray-Darling Basin. She is eager to explore ways to ensure that Australia's freshwater ecosystems remain resilient to climate change. Listen to her UNAI interview here.
Meredith Nash is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Tasmania and researcher in the field of feminist sociology of the body, health sociology and human geography. Her research has informed the Australian government's policy and health practice and has received international recognition through the global media, quotation, and award. To study the leadership experiences of women in science, she will be following the participants of the Homeward Bound program for the next three years and evaluating how they utilize the skills gained from the program. This evaluation will provide essential knowledge for the development of long-term industry and policy responses to elevating women in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine globally. Listen to her UNAI interview here.
Denise Hardesty, a senior research scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Oceans and Atmosphere Flagship, has been leading a portfolio of marine debris projects and receiving national and global recognition in leading plastic pollution research with high value and impact. As a broadly trained scientist who has worked on all the continents, she brings a unique understanding to environmental issues. Denise increasingly provides scientific advice on plastic pollution issues to governments, non-government organizations, industry and other stakeholders, internationally and within Australia. She is passionate about science which has an impact, engaging the next generation and science communication. She works intensively with community groups and citizen scientists of all ages to find simple, affordable, effective solutions to debris and litter related problems. Listen to her UNAI interview here