Braving the cold in the Antarctic – NYSF Alumna Sandra Kerbler

NYSF Alumna Sandra Kerbler is one of 78 women worldwide to be selected to participate in Homeward Bound, a leadership and strategic program for women in science, set against the backdrop of Antarctica.

It feels absolutely amazing to have been selected. It’s a journey of a lifetime and I can’t wait to do what I can to raise awareness of the issues women in science face

Homeward Bound is an Australian initiative developed by leadership expert Fabian Dattner and Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre. 170 applications were received in the first round and 250 in the second.

“I submitted a two-minute YouTube Video, a three-page resume and cover letter outlining why I should be chosen for the program.”

“It feels absolutely amazing to have been selected. It’s a journey of a lifetime and I can’t wait to do what I can to raise awareness of the issues women in science face. I hope to make a difference too,” she said.

Within her PhD research at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, Sandra investigates how plants are affected by changing temperatures, in particular cold stress. “My studies aim to identify how plants adjust their metabolism in response to changing environmental conditions, with such knowledge contributing to the global effort to produce crop plants that can thrive in future changing climates.”

“As the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, one of the biggest challenges mankind will face is the ability to feed everyone, which is complicated further by changing environmental conditions,” Sandra said.

The Homeward Bound expedition will focus on building leadership skills, with a parallel focus on the changing environment and how polar science can inform about the health of the planet.

“(Having) women in leadership matters to me because there is still such disparity between men and women in leadership positions,” she said. “By taking part in Homeward Bound I hope to gain the knowledge and skills to change current trends and influence policy and decision-making.”

The first trip, departing Ushuaia, Argentina in December 2016, will seek to significantly elevate how women at the leadership table might provide a more sustainable future, where climate change is used as an example.

Sandra has launched a crowd-funding campaign, together with three other UWA participants, to help raise $25,000 each toward the cost of their journey.

For more information about the Homeward Bound initiative, visit the UWA Crowd Funding Page.