Home­ward Bound

Kapiti News - - Front Page - Ros­alie Wil­lis

Soil sci­en­tist and agri­cul­tural sys­tems mod­eller Bianca Das from Rau­mati South has been se­lected as a Home­ward Bound par­tic­i­pant for 2018-2019.

Home­ward Bound is a global 12-month lead­er­ship ini­tia­tive for women with a back­ground in STEMM (Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing, Math­e­mat­ics and Medicine).

The global pro­gramme aims to equip women with lead­er­ship tools to in­flu­ence pol­icy, de­ci­sion mak­ing and sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tion for the fu­ture health of the planet, and cul­mi­nates with a three week in­ten­sive train­ing course on a ship in Antarc­tica.

“The aim of Home­ward Bound has al­ways been to iden­tify and fos­ter out­stand­ing lead­er­ship po­ten­tial in STEMM and Bianca is ex­actly the kind of per­son I had in mind when I dreamt of this pro­gramme,” pro­gramme founder Fabian Dat­tner said.

Hav­ing stud­ied a Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence with hon­ours at Lin­coln Univer­sity, Bianca’s in­ter­est in the en­vi­ron­ment was present back when she at­tended Rau­mati South School and Para­pa­raumu Col­lege.

She was part of Para­pa­raumu Col­lege’s en­vi­ron­men­tal group that cam­paigned to get re­cy­cling bins at the school and has been in­volved in plant­ing at the Waikanae es­tu­ary.

Study­ing at Lin­coln opened Bianca’s eyes to agri­cul­ture and how en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lems in New Zealand are closely linked to agri­cul­ture.

Af­ter com­plet­ing her de­gree Bianca did her masters in Aus­tralia and now works for CSIRO in Queens­land, Aus­tralia as a soil sci­en­tist.

Af­ter see­ing a col­league go­ing through the Home­ward Bound pro­gramme Bianca thought the pro­gramme would help her with her per­sonal devel­op­ment as she em­barks on fur­ther study, start­ing re­search for her PhD next month.

“I had a col­league at work that went on the Home­ward Bound pro­gramme and I saw her blos­som as she went through the 12 months.

“There are two main things I’m hop­ing to get out of the pro­gramme. One is my per­sonal devel­op­ment.

“I’m hop­ing it will give me more drive and keep me aware of where I’m go­ing and of the big­ger pic­ture while study­ing. The sec­ond is I’d like to im­prove how we see sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tion on a whole.

“It’s very easy to be mis­led in sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tion with fake news and ar­ti­cles that might have more of a po­lit­i­cal ba­sis.

“I’d like to be able to cre­ate a medium that doesn’t re­quire a high level of un­der­stand­ing in a par­tic­u­lar area, some kind of art­work or non-tra­di­tional form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion that can trans­pose through lan­guage and other bar­ri­ers. The mar­riage of art and sci­ence is some­thing I would like to ex­plore as a per­sonal project.

“It will also be amaz­ing to be con­nected with so many amaz­ing women.”

With the first ses­sion next month, the pro­gramme cul­mi­nates in a three week trip to Antarc­tica next Novem­ber.

“Antarc­tica has al­ways been a dream of mine. There’s some­thing about it that cap­tures imag­i­na­tions as a place that is not owned by any­one, but is looked af­ter by dif­fer­ent groups.

“It’s def­i­nitely a fas­ci­nat­ing place.”

Bianca’s love of the en­vi­ron­ment and re­search is ev­i­dent.

“Even if I wasn’t get­ting paid I’d still be vol­un­teer­ing to do re­search in this area.”

To get to Antarc­tica Bianca has to raise over $US17,000 by the end of the year.

With the help of her em­ployer and friends and fam­ily, Bianca is on her way to rais­ing this money, but still has a long way to go.

“It’s one of those things where you have to sep­a­rate your­self and feel­ing guilty ask­ing for money as it’s not re­ally about me.

“It’s about this larger ob­jec­tive, and that’s what peo­ple want to be con­tribut­ing to.”

To find out more about Bianca’s trip or to help her raise funds visit her crowd fund­ing page www.chuffed.org/project/ bian­cas-en­deav­our-toantarc­tica for more in­for­ma­tion.


Bianca Das.

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