Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


apecs logo webISAES2019 logoThe Asociation of Polar Early Career Scientist has a long tradition in organizing events and activities for early career researchers (ECRs) at major scientific conferences and events. In a relaxing atmosphere, ECRs come together and stablish the bases for future networking and professional relationships. During the XIII International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Sciences celebrated between 22 and 26 July 2019 at Songdo Convensia Center in Incheon, Republic of South Korea, a dedicated group of council members from APECS organized an evening event during the first day of the conference (22 July 2019). 

APECS evening event at ISAES2019

As part of the ISAES 2019 side meetings, APECS organized a fascinating evening event on Monday 22 July. It was a side meeting open for ECRs members and non-members of the association, as well as more experienced researchers in the mood to share their experience. The APECS event at ISAES was intentionally scheduled on the first day of the symposium. The idea behind this was to bring together ECRs who could start to build a network for the symposium that would develop during the week. Even though 6:00 pm in the evening of the first day of such an intense conference could have been a challenge, a total of 22 attendants joined to enjoy the evening together. 

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Left: Attendants to the APECS event at ISAES2019 listening to the amazing life experience of Dr. Hongkum Lee (KOPRI); Middle: Lara F. Pérez introducting the event and the schedule of the evening. Right: Jhon Fredy Mojica during the APECS presentation. © Deniz Vural

The event went smoothly for the three hours with informal presentations, games, chats and networking. APECS provided some funding that allowed drinks and snacks to liven up the evening. Several specialities of the Korean culture were provided. It is important to mention that we had the wise advice of Dong-U Kim (KOPRI) for the food selection. 

A brief introduction to the event by Lara F. Perez initiated the evening. Lara acted as a master of ceremony and moderator of the subsequent discussion panel. The presentation on APECS association, aims, activities and challenges was given by Jhon Fredy Mojica

ISAES2019 5Our invited speaker Dr. Hongkum Lee former president of KOPRI followed with an animated talk entitled Broader, higher, further for the dreams. The enthusiastic audience was delighted with the anecdotes and life-experiences of Dr. Hongkum Lee who showed us how decisions determine our path. Dr. Lee gave a motivational talk based on her personal experiences as a woman working in Polar Research and how she balanced work and personal life at different stages of her career. 

A short break was appreciated by the attendants who took the opportunity to talk with Dr. Lee (see left photo © ISAES) and with each other while enjoying some drinks and snacks. With renewed energy we moved back into business, this time was the turn of the discussion panel. Lara gave a short introduction to the panel topic: ‘Career uncertainties: come and ask!’ and passed the baton to the four enthusiastic panelists seating on at the front of the room. The panel was formed by Dr. Denise Kulhanek (IODP - T&M), Dr. Steph McLennan (Geoscience Australia), Dr. Hongkum Lee (KOPRI) and Dr. Alex Burnton-Johnson (BAS) (see photo below, from left to right, © Deniz Vural). The four panelists are currently at four different stages on their scientific careers, which gave the attendees an overview of the challenges of each professional step. They shared many stories, anecdotes, and advice with the audience. While Hogkum encouraged us to feel happy regarding our life and work, 

ISAES2019 6Denise highlighted the importance of perseverance and flexibility to pursue our aims. Alex shared with us a few stories about field trips and how to get enrolled in polar sciences, and Steph gave us an excellent overview on fieldwork and international collaborations, as well as how to turn hard moments into opportunities. There was a healthy discussion with the audience across a great variety of topics, from advice regarding career development, to career motivations focused on how to face the winters of our careers, continuing onto how to balance professional growth and family development. 

Towards the end of the evening Deniz Vural took the stage to briefly talk about the role of the APECS National Committees. She played an introductory video to APECS ( that was well received by the audience who discovered many familiar faces. Finally, Deniz introduced an icebreaker game that turned out to be the perfect way to close the evening. The game was a variation of the popular TABOO with polar animals, some of them not that easy to resolve!!! Our particular TABOO provided an integration atmosphere that created bounds between the participants.

APECS Poster

A poster with information on APECS was standing during the whole symposium at the poster venue. A variety of visitors passed by the poster to get information about the association and future activities and opportunities for ECRs. John, Deniz and Lara provided information on APECS membership and also the APECS mentor program to enroll those senior scientists willing to support ECRs.

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From left to right: Lara F. Perez, Deniz Vural and John Fredy Mojica, the members of the organizing team of APECS-ISAES event on site © Jhon Fredy Mojica. The event wouldn’t have been possible without the participation of the rest of the organizing team members Claire Eayrs and Francyne Elias-Piera, and the support of APECS. Our warmest thanks to all of them!!!


Written by Lara F. Pérez1, Jhon Fredy Mojica2, Deniz Vural3, Clare Eayrs2, Francyne Elias-Piera4

  1. British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK
  2. Center for global Sea Level Change NYU, Abu Dhabi
  3. Istanbul Technical University, Turkey
  4. University of São Paulo, Brazil

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