Antarctica trip of a lifetime keeps climate-change front of mind

21 DECEMBER 2023

Antarctica trip of a lifetime keeps climate-change front of mind

A Charles Sturt University environmental scientist has returned from an all-women-in-STEMM expedition to Antarctica as part of the international Homeward Bound program.

Environmental research scientist and ecologist Dr Elizabeth (Liz) Znidersic, a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Charles Sturt University Gulbali Research Institute for Agriculture, Water and Environment, set sail to Antarctica from the Argentinian port of Ushuaia on Friday 3 November as a participant of a leadership program run by Homeward Bound.

Homeward Bound is a global transformational leadership initiative, which aims to create a diverse community for women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM), with the aim of creating a new way of leading that is better suited to today’s world.

This focuses on the concept of a ‘global home’, led with integrity, a drive for results, an ability to motivate others, a deep care for relationships and the will to collaborate towards this shared ambition.

Dr Znidersic joined 78 women from 18 countries for the voyage aboard the ship ‘MV Ushuaia’. She said it was a privilege to be awarded a place in the 2022/23 Homeward Bound program.

“It was the most incredible experience, both in the people I met and the places I saw,” she said.

“The colours and wildlife were just amazing, and the sounds of Antarctica were so unique, which is interesting to me as I study the sounds of wetlands.”

The journey itself to Antarctica was an expedition as the women travelled across the Drake Passage in moderately rough seas aboard an expedition ship built in the 1970s, which had traversed the waters for more than 20 years.

Dr Znidersic described her voyage as ‘a privileged experience’, learning from the frozen land and her new peers.

“Every single woman on board was amazing and we had great conversations and shared different perspectives from all of our respective STEMM-based careers,” she said.

“There were too many experiences to narrow it down to a standout occasion, and it will take months to integrate and understand everything we saw and learned.”

The experience also opened Dr Znidersic’s eyes to the impacts of climate change.

“We saw these impacts firsthand, with minimal sea ice and much glacial ice or icebergs,” she said.

“I certainly feel more informed and aware of climate change and how far the reach is globally. The planet is one ecosystem - it and we are connected.”

The program was facilitated by 10 Homeward Bound staff for the first five days before the voyagers put what they had learned over the past few years of the program into action by designing and implementing a daily program. This involved working with the expedition crew and working around the changeable environmental conditions.

Despite their recent return home, Dr Znidersic said the journey was far from over.

“The international connection of those 78 women on my voyage and the collective 800 strong women in Homeward Bound provides so many new perspectives and the potential for further global collaborations,” she said.

“It has helped me see the implications of my own research field, and how other STEMM fields are connected and can benefit from one another.”

ENDS

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Dr Liz Znidersic, contact Jessica McLaughlin at Charles Sturt Media on 0430 510 538 or via news@csu.edu.au

The Gulbali Institute for Agriculture, Water and Environment is a strategic investment by Charles Sturt University to drive integrated research to optimise farming systems, enhance freshwater ecosystems and improve environmental management, to deliver benefits across Australia and globally.

Photo: Dr Liz Znidersic joined 78 women from 18 countries for the voyage aboard the ship ‘MV Ushuaia’.  


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