Association of Polar Early Career Scientists

5th APECS Portugal Workshop

APECS Portugal Workshop Poster ENThe APECS - Portugal has organized its 5th Edition Workshop of Career Development in Porto (Portugal). As in previous years, the workshop was allocated close to the 6th Portuguese Polar Science Conference in order to enhance the extension of this event within the Portuguese Polar community. The workshop theme for this year was "APECS Portugal: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow", and has such it was staged in three distinct parts.

During “Yesterday” we travelled back to the origins of APECS Portugal, and guided by our Today’s mentors (the past earlier career scientists and the founders of APECS Portugal) we learnt about the motivations behind the birth of APECS in Portugal, and realized the Yesterday’s goals achieved Today. “Today” was the place to discuss about the opportunities for young scientist provided by APECS Portugal and also by APECS International, and the outcomes from our educational projects held during polar weeks as well as the impacts of networking.

To discuss about Tomorrow we benefited from the presence of a panel of discussion with our guests to help establish our future goals and provided us with valuable tips towards a successful career development.

To contribute to the success and enrichment of this event, besides all the national speakers we were happy to have Dr. Gerlis Fugmann Executive Director of APECS International, Professor Holger Hintelmann from the Canadian Arctic Program and also three members of APECS Bulgaria - Iglika Trifonova, Denitsa Apostolova and Desislava Petkova-Peneva, (president and boards members of APECS Bulgaria, respectively), who provided a valuable insight of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow of their National Committee.


APECS NL Symposium, 4 November 2014, Groning/NL

A couple of weeks ago, I was tidying up my room. And by that, I mean really tidying up - not just shovelling my clutter into the nearest cupboard (or under my bed). It was time for a real change: I had to get rid of all the mess.
Tidying up is not my favourite thing to do. However: once I got started, I found out that it was quite rewarding, in fact.

I found a long lost sock (with a purple polkadot pattern) and could finally unite it with its lonely partner. I found 10 euro's worth of cash. And, best of all, I found a book called 'Polar Science and Global Climate - An International Resource for Education and Outreach'. The book was published in the International Polar Year 2007-2008 and I'd got it at the IPY conference in Oslo in 2010. Since then, I hadn't really looked at it (which shows how often I tidy my room...)

As soon as I found the book, I abandoned my cleaning resolutions. The book was far too interesting, and contained a lot of easy, fun ways to introduce polar science concepts to the broad audience. The lesson 'Penguin Reunion', for example, lets 'participants play a group game to demonstrate how penguin parents and chicks are able to find their families in large, loud rookeries'. And in another lesson, 'students use ice samples and a coloured dye to investigate differences in the structure of sea ice and freshwater ice'.
What I liked about this book, is that it introduces lay people to polar science in an easy accessible way. And that is, in my opinion, also a very import mission for us as APECS members: inspire the broad audience.

To inspire other people, first you need to be inspired yourself. That's why, in my opinion, the APECS Netherlands gathering on the 4th of November was so very successful.

With approximately 30 people, we came together in the Arctic Centre in Groningen. In the morning, we had an interesting talk from Dr. Greg Poelzer, all the way from Canada - he is the Executive Chair of the University of Saskatchewan'sInternational Centre for Northern Governance and Development. In the afternoon, after a delicious lunch (thank you, Willem Barentsz Polar Institute!) we had very inspiring presentations by APECS members - the topics varying from long tailed skuas (traveling pole-to-pole) to the archaeology of Jan Mayen. In addition, Jorden Splinter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave a talk about his role as senior advisor Polar Affairs, and Dr. Annette Scheepstra, told us about the Willem Barentsz Polar Institute.

To conclude the day, Nyckle Swierstra, senior communication advisor of the University of Groningen, shared some tips and tricks to improve science presentations, focusing on the importance of telling a story - getting the message of your research across to the public by communicating in an enthusiastic, inspiring way. Together with film institute Sensu Science, he gave us a crash course in filmmaking. We had to design our own storyboard for a short polar film - a sort of FrostByte video.

All in all, the programme contained so many interesting views on polar science, that we had a lot to talk about during the informal party afterwards - so much, in fact, that I almost missed my train. The gathering of APECS Netherlands was full of interesting 'sparks', full of creativity. Meeting so many people who all share the love for the polar regions, creates a very inspiring atmosphere. A lot of new plans were made (among which writings a proceedings publication based on the presentations of APECS NL members), a lot of networking was done. I got home with so much energy, that I even managed to finish the tidying up of my room...

APECS-AGU 2014 Career Development Panel Discussion and Pub Meetup Event Summary

AGU APECS panel 2014

There are many exciting career opportunities and challenges faced by the next generation of early career polar scientists as they transition from their graduate studies to academic, government, or consulting jobs. This event was geared to provide professional career development advice and guidance for attendees at all stages of their career. A set of questions and answers were directed towards four panelists at various stages of their careers both inside and out of academia.

The panelists included (from left to right in the photo) Dr. Hedy Edmonds (NSF Arctic Natural Sciences Program Director), Dr. Lora Koenig (National Snow and Ice Data Center), Dr. Lonnie Thompson (Distinguished Professor at Ohio State University), and Dr. Christopher Polanshenski (Research Geophysicist at CRREL and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth College).

This event couldn't have been made possible without the generosity and partnership from the Association of Polar Early Career Scientists (APECS) and the AGU Cryosphere Focus Group.

Post-panel discussion, the attendees had the opportunity to mingle, network, and ask follow-up questions at John Colins pub. We thank the AGU Cryosphere Focus Group for helping provide funds to purchase food and appetizers for the panel attendees. This enabled the panelists and panel attendees for continued discussion and a chance to catch-up with fellow colleagues in an informal setting.

Key Tips/Advice
1) Use your post doc as an opportunity to separate yourself from your adviser's research.
2) As a researcher/scientist, don't let writing papers for publication slip from your list of things to do. Learn how to properly manage and partition your time for research, advising, writing proposals, and so forth. It's easy to let deadlines (e.g., teaching, proposals) come before writing papers.
3) When getting your career started, don't be afraid to fail. When you're young, people in the field don't realize when you fail. This is important in order to succeed in your career further down the line, and will enable you to grow as a researcher and person.

Summarized Questions & Answers

Q: What are some important skills/experiences to have when getting started in your career?

A: Surround yourself with a mix of mentors – both younger and more seasoned scientists – from a variety of different backgrounds and training. It's unlikely that one mentor can teach you everything you need to know. Furthermore, understand what your time is worth as you begin to manage working on multiple projects simultaneously.

Q: How do you manage dealing with dual careers between you and your partner?

A: In the polar science field, we are fortunate enough that our research is predominately computer-based, making it easier for us to work from almost anywhere. This kind of flexibility isn't always available in other fields.

Q: Do you have any advice that you wish you had known at the beginning of your career?

A: Don't take criticism personally. In the end, those that provide criticism will likely provide more valuable feedback that will help you become a better scientist. Often times, the best feedback comes from program managers. Use them to provide insight on making your proposal more competitive. Don't hesitate to email and call the program manager. Furthermore, use your colleagues, especially if they are outside of your field-of-interest, to read your proposal. An outsider perspective can help you identify weaknesses and solidify what you're trying to convey that may otherwise have gone undetected.

Q: Do you have any advice for going from managing 1-2 research projects as a PhD, and then developing longer term research programs?

A: Try to manage many research projects, but keep them constrained generally to the same subject area. Otherwise, you will be trying to juggle too much. Put yourself in a good position where you can negotiate job offers, and have colleagues that will advocate your decisions as you navigate through your career path. In addition, try and be aware of your skills, and their broader applicability when building your funding profile. Always be mindful of what opportunities are available outside of your current position.

Q: What other funding avenues outside of NASA and NSF are there?

A: Other funding options include the Office of Naval Research, Army Research Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense. In addition, there are funding options from the industry sector (e.g., oil companies) as well as state and local agencies. More recently, researchers have also turned to private and crowdsource funding and special interest groups (e.g., Sierra Club and Nature Conservancy).

Q: Do you have any advice when attending conferences?

A: Try not to submit an abstract for a conference unless the work is already completed by the time the abstract submission is due. At the conference, try to only commit to 1-2 talks (e.g., at AGU), in order to leave you enough time to talk and network with colleagues. These meetings are a crucial time for making science happen! If you're giving a talk, construct your talk so that you have enough time to have the audience ask questions at the end. Lastly, practice giving your talk, as it doesn't come natural to all of us.

Q: Where do you see our field heading in the coming years?

A: An influx of new science questions, creative ideas, and tools (e.g., Unmanned Aircraft Systems) to answer these questions are expected. This is an exciting time to be in our field – given its relevancy and importance relating to climate change.


December 17th, 2014 from 6-7:30 pm
Moscone South Mezzanine Room 270, San Francisco, CA
Number of Attendees: 36


APECS workshop at ICASS VIII

iassa logo1APECS organized a career development workshop on 21 May 2014 during the 8th International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS VIII) held from 22 - 26 May 2014 in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada.

About ICASS VIII: ICASS is held every three years, bringing together people from all over the world to share ideas about social science research in the Arctic. The University of Northern British Columbia was the host of the 2014 conference. ICASS VIII's theme was Northern Sustainabilities. More information can be found on the conference website:

Early Career Researcher Travel Support: The ICASS VIII Organizers and partnering organizations raised funds to provide support to students and early career scientists on a competitive basis to help cover their travel costs to attend the conference. APECS helped with the coordination of the travel awards.

Read more about the APECS activities at ICASS VIII! 

APECS Nordic Workshop 2014

nsf logoSwedish Polar Secretariat mobile highres logoiasc webnorden logoapecs logo webCulminating the APECS Nordic Project, “Bridging Early Career Researchers and Indigenous Peoples in Nordic Countries” was a 2-day in person workshop entitled “Connecting Early Career Researchers and Community Driven Research in the North” that was held at the Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) , and Arctic Observing Summit (AOS) in Helsinki, Finland, 7-8 April, 2014.

The APECS Nordic Workshop brought together approximately 60 key stakeholders including mentors and experts and Early Career Researchers and Indigenous peoples, youth and local expert representatives among indigenous peoples, senior scientists, key representatives of international organizations and other media. APECS worked closely with existing partners such as IASC, Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat and the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat to identify and invite workshop participants and mentors. Travel funding to attend the Workshop was available through various sponsors.

The 2-day workshop included plenary sessions, breakout sessions, panel discussions, and group work. The goal of the workshop was to discuss and develop materials that educate and inform about the interactions between ECRs and Indigenous peoples in Nordic regions.  

Please check this page for highlights about the APECS Nordic Workshop.  Once the results from the workshop have been compiled and published, they will also be made available here.

For more information about the ASSW 2014, click here. For more information about the Arctic Observing Summit (AOS), click here. 

Read more about the APECS Nordic Workshop! 

APECS at Arctic Frontiers 2014

apecs logo webArctic Frontiers Logo new 2013APECS was a partner of the Arctic Frontiers 2014 conference in Tromsø, Norway from 19 – 24 January 2014 with the theme "Humans in the Arctic" and one of the main contributors to its Young Scientist Forum:

  • Science Communication and Media Training Workshop on 19 January
  • Networking Reception "Arctic Games" organized together with the Fram Centre in Tromsø on 21 January
  • "Science For Schools" together with the Arctic Frontiers and the Science Centre of Northern Norway (Nordnorsk Vitensenteret)
  • APECS also organised the poster awards for the conference for early career poster presenters

Read more about the APECS events at Arctic Frontiers 2014!

Contact APECS

APECS International Directorate
Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research
Telegrafenberg A45
14473 Potsdam
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