Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


A full day APECS workshop was held in Malaysia on August 21, immediately prior to the 2016 SCAR Open Science Conference. This workshop attracted over 60 participants, with early career researchers from all over the globe attending.

Jose Xavier from the British Antarctic Survey opened the workshop, presenting on “Networking Skills: an important soft skill for a scientist?” Next, Renuka Badhe from the European Polar Board provided an introduction to “international Cooperation and Interdisciplinary Work.” Their advice about networking was soon put into practice, with an interactive icebreaker activity encouraging participants to mingle and meet each other during the coffee break.

Jose Xavier presenting at APECS workshop     Renuka Badhe presenting at APECS workshop

Jose Xavier and Renuka Badhe present at the APECS workshop - image: Bernabé Moreno

The second part of the morning was spent learning about some of the unique projects and products that were being launched or further developed at SCAR 2016. George Roth, from the Norwegian Polar Institute, provided an introduction to Quantarctica, a collection of Antarctic geographical datasets which works with the free, open-source software QGIS. He was followed by Anne le Brocq from the University of Exeter, who provided a preview of her new interactive computer game about ice sheets in Antarctica, called “Ice Flows.” The SCAR conference provided a unique opportunity for scientists and policy makers to meet face to face, and this fact was highlighted by Gabriela Roldan from the University of Canterbury. Gabriela introduced the Survey on Antarctic Science - Policy making engagement, and encouraged all APECS members present to take place in the survey in order to improve science-policy interactions in the future. Cornelia Lüdecke from the SCAR History Expert Group also spoke briefly, and encouraged APECS members to make the most of the SCAR conference by attending sessions outside of their immediate fields.

For many of those present, the workshop was their first APECS event. APECS Director Gerlis Fugmann presented an introduction to “The Association of Polar Early Career Scientists and how to get involved” in order to outline the many activities APECS is involved in. Hanne Nielsen from APECS Oceania and Alex Thornton from USAPECS then talked about their National Committee activities.

APECS workshop participants in Kuala Lumpur (SCAR 2016)

APECS workshop participants in Kuala Lumpur - image: Bernabé Moreno

Lunch was followed by a plenary discussion on Career Paths, with the mentors Louise Huffman, (Dartmouth College, United States), Renuka Badhe, (European Polar Board, Netherlands), Anne Le Brocq, (University of Exeter, UK), and - via skype from New Zealand - Victoria Metcalf (National Coordinator of the Participatory Science Platform, Office of the Prime Minister's Chief Science Adviser - New Zealand). The discussion, which was chaired by Jennifer Cooper,  provided an opportunity for those present to contemplate the range of career paths available post-PhD, including academia, industry, policy, and education.

The final session of the day involved two breakout sessions, one on ‘Writing Funding Applications,” and the other on “Sharpening communication skills.” David Walton, (British Antarctic Survey, United Kingdom), Pete Convey, (British Antarctic Survey, United Kingdom) and Daniela Liggett, (University of Canterbury, New Zealand) first identified common pitfalls in grant writing, and answered specific questions in smaller workshop-style groups. In the parallel session, Louise Huffman (Dartmouth College, United States), Michael Becker  (BBC Natural History Unit), Tim Naish, (University of Wellington, New Zealand), Jan Strugnell (La Trobe University, Australia) and Kenny Matsuoka (Norwegian Polar Institute, Norway) explored novel ways of communicating science to the wider public.

Many thanks to all of the mentors who helped to make the workshop a success, to Antarctic Science for providing lunch, and to the SCAR 2016 conference for providing a venue and coffee breaks.

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