Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


APECS Webinars

Gaining Momentum - Women in Polar Research
Michelle C. Mack (1), Elena Bautista Sparrow (2), Jenny Baeseman (3)
(1) University of Florida, USA; (2) University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA, (3) Association of Polar Early Career Scientists

Polar Research may be a historically male dominated field, but women are gaining momentum and more are becoming leaders in their field, in international organizations, and lead PIs on projects and cruises. As early career researchers, many young women are taking on key leadership roles in APECS and other committees and projects as well as producing outstanding research. However, there are many things that are unique to women working in some of the most remote areas of the planet. This webinar was an open discussion to begin to identify the issues that are unique to women in polar science careers hosted by Jenny Baeseman, Michelle Mack, and Elena Sparrow.

Recorded on 19 October 2010

This video is part of an online lecture series coordinated by APECS, US NSF ARCSS Thermokarst Project, and the University of Canterbury to help early career polar researchers navigate their careers. For more information on the full series, visit

Dr. Michelle C. Mack is an associate professor of Ecosystem Ecology in the Department of Botany at the University of Florida, USA. She is interested in controls over ecosystem structure and function. If she were a plant, she would be a larch tree (Larix sp.). If she were an element, she would be something with a really conservative cycle, like neobidium.

Dr. Elena Bautista Sparrow is a Research Professor of Soil Microbiology and Environmental Science in the School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences, and Director of Education Outreach at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska, USA. She is a member of the International Polar Year (IPY) Education Outreach and Communication Working Groups and is also the director of the University of the Arctic IPY Higher Education and Outreach Office. She directs other science education outreach programs such as the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research Alaska Rural Research Partnership education outreach project, the Bonanza Creek Schoolyard Long Term Ecological Research Project, and the Alaska Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program. She works with elementary and secondary teachers and their students as well as with undergraduate and graduate students. Elena is the principal investigator of the IPY Monitoring Seasons Through Global Learning Communities, also called the GLOBE Seasons and Biomes project where pre-college teachers and students in Alaska and other states in the U.S. and other countries both polar and non-polar countries are involved. She co-leads the GK-12 Teaching Alaskans- Sharing Knowledge program. These science education programs engage pre-college students in scientific investigations to learn about science as well as to stimulate student interest in a postsecondary degree and a science career. Elena’s research interests are climate change effects on seasonal indicators such as plant and freshwater ice phenology, science education and environmental microbiology. Dr. Sparrow obtained the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture degree cum laude from the University of the Philippines, a Master of Science degree in Soil Microbiology from Cornell University and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Agronomy from Colorado State University.

Jenny Baeseman is the Director, Association of Polar Early Career Scientists, Tromsø, Norway. Jenny been interested in life in streams starting with her childhood on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Her training includes a B.S. in Water Chemistry from the University of WI - Stevens Point, M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota, a Ph.D. also in Civil Engineering with an environmental emphasis from the University of Colorado, and postdoctoral training in geosciences at Princeton University. During her training, she has spent 3 summer seasons in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica and has a deep appreciation and interest in the Polar Regions. Jenny began working with the International Polar Year (IPY) in the summer of 2005. While working as an Assistant Professor in Biological Science, she became the co-chair of the IPY Tertiary Education Committee and the founding Director for the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS), one of the major legacy programs of the IPY. One of her main objectives for the organization is to help young researchers combine their interests in interdisciplinary polar science with interests in education and outreach and professional development activities. She began serving as the Director of APECS in 2007, when the Directorate was hosted at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, where she currently an affiliate assistant research professor. The University of Tromsø, and the Norwegian Research Council are now hosting the APECS Directorate Office, and Jenny is happy to be living in Tromsø, the “Paris of the North”. One of Jenny's personal goals is to make sure everyone she meets knows that polar bears don't eat penguins - as they live in different polar regions.

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