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Curtin researchers bound for female leadership mission in Antarctica

Media release

Three researchers from Curtin University will join 97 female leaders from around the world for the fourth instalment of the Homeward Bound Program, departing for Antarctica in November 2019.

Antarctica ice caps and ocean

Dr Nina Tirnitz-Parker, from Curtin’s School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences and the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute (CHIRI), Dr Catherine Boisvert, from Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, and Dr Rachel Sheffield, from Curtin’s School of Education, have been selected for Homeward Bound #4, which aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine).

Dr Tirnitz-Parker, an expert in liver stem cells and cancer biology, said she was honoured to be selected for the Homeward Bound program and looked forward to travelling to Antarctica at the end of 2019.

“I am delighted to become part of this global group of passionate women who are coming together to network, support each other and develop as leaders,” Dr Tirnitz-Parker said.

“I hope that together we can change the perception of women in STEMM, change workplace dynamics, increase opportunities for women in leadership positions and inspire other women to join us on this incredible journey.”

Dr Boisvert, whose main area of research includes the origins of jawed vertebrates including sharks, said she was thrilled to be selected for the program, which inspires women to become strong advocates and make important decisions that create positive change for the environment.

“The Homeward Bound program is about empowering women to become strong leaders and the program will help me to further develop skills to ensure scientific success in my research fields,” Dr Boisvert said.

“I have always been inspired by other female leaders in STEMM and I think this program will allow us to learn from one another, learn about each other’s cultures and backgrounds, and collaborate on a global scale.”

Dr Sheffield, who teachers pre-service teachers to become STEMM educators, said she was excited to be recognised through an intensive global search of inspirational female women in STEMM.

“The Homeward Bound program has the capacity to create and empower an international community of amazing women and I am looking forward to being part of the fourth cohort,” Dr Sheffield said.

“Working in the STEMM space, it is important to engage with other leaders and share knowledge about our research and this program will provide a unique opportunity for this.”

By supporting women in STEMM, Homeward Bound seeks to improve their clarity, confidence, shared vision, and strategic capability, enhancing their opportunity to take up leadership roles globally and proactively contribute to a sustainable world both individually and collectively.

Professor Jo Ward, Curtin Academic Lead on the Athena Swan Project, said programs such as Homeward Bound provide a wonderful leadership development opportunity for participants, adding she was delighted that these three talented Curtin academics have been selected following a world-wide call for participants.

“Catherine, Nina and Rachel actively champion gender equity at Curtin, and so I am very pleased that the University has been able to support them to participate in Homeward Bound as part of its commitment to this important agenda,” Professor Ward said.

Launched in 2016, the inaugural program culminated in the largest female expedition to Antarctica to date. Homeward Bound has now facilitated two cohorts of women through the year-long program and Antarctica voyage, with a third cohort underway and due to depart on 31 December 2018.

The fourth cohort, also known as the HB4 participants, will depart for Antarctica in November 2019.

For further information on the Homeward Bound project, visit: