An environmental economics researcher and a neuropsychologist from The University of Western Australia are among 80 women from 13 countries around the world selected to take part in the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica.
Veronique Florec, a research associate with UWA’s School of Agriculture and Environment and Rachel Zombor, a clinical neuropsychology practicum supervisor with UWA’s School of Psychological Science, have been selected to participate in Homeward Bound, a unique leadership program for women in science.
The initiative is an Australian-led 12-month leadership and strategy program for women who have a science background. Homeward Bound aims to build a global collaboration and empower women to redress the gender imbalance. It follows last year’s inaugural program which was the start of a 10-year outreach to build a 1,000 strong global collaboration of women in science.
The program culminates in an expedition to Antarctica, where climate change is used as an example of how women can make a pronounced difference to the world today, with the 2016 expedition filmed by an Australian documentary team.
Ms Florec, of Wembley Downs, is currently leading a project that focuses on applying economic analysis to the management of natural hazards such as bushfires and floods, to help decision makers get better value for money from public investments in hazard mitigation.
She combines mathematical and economic modelling to evaluate the impact of different land management strategies on people and the environment.
“I’m looking at simulations of what could happen in the event of a bushfire or a flood to determine the cost and benefits of one strategy versus another one,” Ms Florec said.
“It can be quite hard to work out how to get the best value for money from mitigation investments so we’re working to provide more information to help governments make more informed decisions. As a society we’re conditioned to respond to hazards when they happen rather than try to mitigate them before they happen.”
Ms Florec said she was looking forward to the challenges of travelling by ship to Antarctica, with little or no internet or phone connection.
“This will be the perfect environment for us to focus on self-observation and deep learning,” she said.
“And living on a ship with 70 other women in close proximity will be pretty intense but it will be exciting to meet so many people from all around the world and improve our leadership skills.
“With the skills we’ll learn from the program, we’ll have more clarity, confidence and strategic capability to influence policy and decision-making as they shape the future of our planet.”
Ms Zombor, of North Perth, supervises postgraduate neuropsychology trainees completing their internal placement at UWA. She also directs and operates the clinical, training and research programs of a specialist statewide mental health service, the Neuroscience Unit at North Metropolitan Health Service Mental Health.
“I'm responsible for a budget of over $2.5 million and multidisciplinary team of 35,” Ms Zombor said. “I love teaching, supervising and mentoring and seek to create strong evidence-based public health services.
“Homeward Bound embodies many of my passions including gender equality, science, leadership, personal development and travel. I’m planning to use Homeward Bound as a platform for raising awareness about gender inequality and I’d like to not only contribute to evidence-based policy at the highest level, but to inspire other women to take on leadership roles.”
The second Homeward Bound program participants will travel to Antarctica in February 2018.
Veronique Florec (School of Agriculture and Environment) (+61 4) 01 868 885
Rachel Zombor (UWA School of Psychological Science) (08) 9347 6464
David Stacey (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 3229 / (+61 4) 32 637 716