Trip to break the ice and empower women scientists

Professor Melinda Fitzgerald. Picture: Andrew Ritchie           d444577
Professor Melinda Fitzgerald. Picture: Andrew Ritchie         d444577

UWA Research Associate Professor Melinda Fitzgerald and Amanda Blythe, of Carlisle, along with fellow UWA participants Sandra Kerbler and Ghislaine Platell, have been selected to take part in a 21-day boat trip to Antarctica as part of the Homeward Bound program.

They are among only 78 women from around the globe who have been selected in the initiative for women scientists to build a global collaboration and empower women to redress the gender imbalance.

It is the start of a 10-year outreach to build a 1000-strong global collaboration of women in science.

Prof. Fitzgerald, of Salter Point, leads a team of nine researchers and post-graduate students and is focused on understanding and preventing the spread of damage following neurotrauma by quantifying biochemical and structural changes in vulnerable tissue.

She is using the knowledge to develop treatment strategies, including combinatorial pharmacotherapy and nanotechnology delivery systems.

She said the expedition would be a wonderful opportunity to step up to the next level.

“Women scientists experience particular challenges as they progress into leadership roles,” she said.

“I hope that the Homeward Bound experience will give me the skills and professional network required to influence policy and decision-making to overcome some of these challenges and ensure women are equally represented at the highest levels of science.”

Homeward Bound will depart Ushuaia in Argentina for Antarctica on December 2.