Changing sea ice, melting glaciers, rising sea level, coastal erosion, extreme weather events, impacts of food and drinking water security, increased development of natural and energy resources, and changes in international shipping and trade routes – these are just some of the noticeable examples of how changes influencing the Arctic, the Antarctic, and the cryosphere impact the lives of every single person on Earth! As the climate changes, the need to predict impacts and find solutions is more important than ever before.
At the same time, many countries are experiencing a decrease in the number of young people choosing science and engineering career paths. Numerous fields of science and engineering, particularly within the academic and research sector, have more people nearing retirement than new recruits to fill those positions. This gap combined with uncertainties in climate impacts creates an urgent need to develop strategies to not only train new researchers, but also help provide the resources and opportunities needed to develop successful careers.
Establishing a solid foundation for a successful polar research career requires not only excellent training in conducting research, but also in a number of ‘soft skills’ which are often not part of a graduate student’s education.
• How do you develop a successful research proposal?
• How do you manage budgets and people?
• How do you communicate your results not only to scientific colleagues but to the general public?
• How do you plan for and execute extensive remote fieldwork?
• How do you decide on what research topics to focus on?
• How do you fund that fieldwork?
• How do you foster productive collaborations and diverse partnerships?
These are just a few of these important skills that young researchers need to have as part of their toolbox.
One of the major changes in how science careers progress today versus in past decades is through the enhanced mobility of researchers. Young people are taking advantage of new opportunities and are reacting to changes in national funding priorities for research by moving internationally. This creates a need for resources to help increase the understanding of how various fields of science and education are conducted across international borders. It also makes it more important to have a large network of colleagues to navigate political challenges in order to address critical research needs.
As an international network of young researchers working together to help each other and to learn from experienced mentors across national boundaries, APECS is providing resources to strengthen the careers of polar researchers around the world.
As the preeminent international and inter-disciplinary polar organization driven by young researchers in response to their needs, APECS is uniquely positioned to build on the IPY legacy by continuing to create international opportunities for young researchers and those who will become researchers and educators. From its inception, APECS has integrated junior researchers and senior mentors in every activity and has developed strategic partnerships to aide in the professional development of polar researchers. This creates a much needed continuum of knowledge and expertise in research in polar areas which will play a critical role in shaping the future of polar research. Transfer of information and skills will also benefit the planning of future international research projects, including the next IPY, a responsibility charged to APECS by the World Meteorological Organization and the International Council for Science.
Unlike any other organization or effort, APECS is able to harness the energy of early career professionals interested in the Polar Regions to do BIG things. On an international and interdisciplinary stage, APECS unites the expertise, dedication, and enthusiasm of its members with mentors to train, develop, and inspire the next generation of polar researchers and educators.
APECS continues to create innovative ways to share research across national and disciplinary boundaries to create new collaborations and increase our understanding of the Polar Regions. APECS projects are member-driven and coordinated. Through in-person mentoring events, webinars, virtual poster sessions, science communication training and the ability to incorporate new technology and ideas into tangible products, APECS is ready for the shifting requirements of researchers as the need to respond to rapid changes increases.
You can help to continue shaping the future of polar research! A contribution will support this unprecedented user-driven initiative in professional development, science, and education.