30 October 2023

Abertay lecturer boards all-female Antarctic expedition for climate action

The voyage will see 88 women in STEMM travel to Antarctica next month

An Abertay academic is among three Tayside women retracing the epic journey of the RRS Discovery as they set sail for Antarctica to witness firsthand how climate change is affecting the world’s oceans.  

Dr Rebecca Wade, a senior lecturer in environmental science at the University, joins 87 women on the Homeward Bound leadership programme aboard the Ushuaia as they voyage through the Southern Ocean. 

The 19-night journey departs from Argentina on November 3, 2023, featuring women from 17 countries in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine) fields. 

The trip has the twin aims of empowering women in STEMM by providing leadership training while also raising awareness of the impact of the climate crisis. 

The carbon-neutral, all-female voyage, will provide a firsthand account of the devastating effects of global warming on the vast, icy shores of the continent. Participants will also make observations of wildlife, plants, and ice in the frozen south, including via landings on the Antarctic Peninsula. 

The Homeward Bound journey takes place as global leaders prepare to discuss the fight against climate change at the COP28 summit in Dubai. 

Dr Wade said:  

I’m so excited to meet all these women from all over the world to hear all about the science and the activities they do in their daily life, but also to witness together the climate change impact on Antarctica. Homeward Bound is set up to provide women in STEMM subjects with the leadership training to enable us to act in a more meaningful way to help protect our planet and make our future more sustainable for all of us. It is really important that we have diverse voices around the decision-making table when we are making decisions for people, the planet and for our economy. It’s crucial that women get their voice included. We’ll make better decisions that way.  

Dr Wade will be joined on the venture by Dundee-based women Fiona Logan, CEO of Insights, and Irene Tierney, director and principal ecologist at IMTeco Ltd, as the three women retrace a journey etched into Dundee maritime lore.  

The Tayside contingent will be following the likes of legendary explorers Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton, who made a landmark voyage to Antarctica on board the city-built RRS Discovery in 1901.  

The vessel was the first-ever ‘research ship’, and data from the expedition is still used as a baseline for modern-day climate science. 

Fiona Logan said:  

Insights is proudly headquartered in Dundee, where the legendary RRS Discovery sits today, representing the spirit of adventure we are famous for. It’s a privilege to continue that journey of exploration to Antarctica, at a time where our environmental challenges require innovative solutions. The history of the mighty RRS Discovery, the ethos of Insights and the urgency of our climate crisis have converged in this extraordinary journey.  

Dr Wade’s main sponsor for the voyage is the Lothian Family Trust, established by Andi Lothian, founding director of Insights and an Honorary Graduate of Abertay. 

Mr Lothian said:

Three of Dundee’s most dynamic ladies are travelling together following in the path of the RRS Discovery. Dundee’s best wishes go with these three incredible women trailblazers, as does a thought for them to hold on their journey. 

Dr Wade also received significant sponsorship from local businessman James Ewart of West End Honda and The Bonnetmaker Craft, alongside contributions from 60 individuals. 

Watch Dr Wade discuss her upcoming journey on YouTube.

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