Antarctic adventure awaits for Ellenbrook resident

Ghislaine Platell, of Ellenbrook, is set to apply her scientific skills to a three-week, all-women journey to Antarctica next year.
Ghislaine Platell, of Ellenbrook, is set to apply her scientific skills to a three-week, all-women journey to Antarctica next year.

ELLENBROOK’S Ghislaine Platell is preparing to embark on a three week expedition to the Antarctic next year and it’s all part of building a new future for the planet.

The 25-year-old is one of 78 women across the world selected to take part in Homeward Bound, the adventure of a lifetime to Antarctica.

The initiative is an Australian-led program for female scientists, collaborating to empower women to redress the gender imbalance.

It is the start of a 10-year outreach program to build a team of 1000 women in science, who will work together on global issues like climate change.

Mrs Platell is a PhD student with the Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER) and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology studies at University of WA.

Her studies focus on the gut bacteria of termites to look for enzymes, which can be used to produce biofuel from cellulose.

The results of her research may lead to more efficient biofuel production.

“Plant matter is a source of renewable energy that we can learn to harness more efficiently, just like termites have done for millions of years,” she said.

“I am still young and finding my place in the world, though I have a strong calling to do something useful for our generation.

“A project like Homeward Bound is an amazing opportunity for me to connect with women who share similar values yet come from diverse backgrounds.

“It’s difficult for a single person to really make an impact, but as a group, we hope to support each other to lead others to bring about positive change.”

Homeward Bound departs for Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of South America and the gateway to Antarctica, on December 2 next year.

Three other women from UWA will also join Mrs Platell on the Homeward Bound expedition. Each needs to raise $25,000 toward the cost of the journey and have launched a Crowd Research Page to help achieve this. To read more about Mrs Platell and her research, or to donate, visit http://bit.ly/1LQlfgp.