Bringing students on a voyage of discovery

As part of National Science Week (15-23 August 2020) Dr Rebecca Handcock gave a guest presentation to parents, students and staff of Chisholm Catholic College (Perth, Western Australia) about her expedition to Antarctica, the broader challenges we face as a planet and how future scientists, engineers and mathematicians can make a difference.

Rebecca’s talk focussed on all of the interesting places that a career in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) can take you. She used examples from her experience as part of the largest all-women voyage to Antarctica with the Homeward Bound program in Nov-Dec 2019.

Homeward Bound is a leadership program for women in STEMM, and Rebecca was selected as one of 100 women from around the world to participate. The program involves training in mentorship, strategy, visibility and science communication, to build future female leaders in STEMM. This global leadership initiative aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet.

Rebecca talked about leadership, diversity, and team-work, and how these are important in school, scientific field work, in the close-confines of an expedition ship. She advised students to getting involved in lots of things – “as everything you do will end up helping you at some point in life”.

The students asked many interesting questions, such as how to be prepared for travelling someplace as remote as Antarctica and how the Antarctica bases are supplied with food. Rebecca’s favourite question was about how she kept in contact with her family when there was almost no internet.

Dr Handcock is a Spatial Data Scientist with a PhD in Geography from the University of Toronto. She spent four years as a Research Fellow at the University of Washington, followed by a decade at CSIRO as a Senior Research Scientist. Rebecca is currently at the Curtin University Institute for Computation, working with the Curtin Open Knowledge Initiative (COKI).