NUI Galway Nanoscientist Voyaging to Antarctica for Women’s Leadership

Nanoscientist, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, School of Physics, NUI Galway pictured during her two-week Arctic Circle residency program in 2017. Photo: Jessamyn Fairfield
Oct 02 2019 Posted: 11:36 IST

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, a Nanoscientist from the School of Physics at NUI Galway is fundraising for the initiative Homeward Bound, a ground-breaking leadership programme for women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Homeward Bound culminates in a research trip to the Antarctica this November and aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape the planet.

Launched in 2016, the inaugural programme culminated in the largest ever female expedition to Antarctica. Homeward Bound takes place over the course of a year, supporting women in science to significantly improve their clarity, confidence, shared vision and strategic capability. It helps women to take up leadership roles globally and to proactively contribute to a sustainable world both individually and collectively. At the end of the programme this November, Dr Fairfield and her cohort will travel to Antarctica, an iconic and challenging landscape that is experiencing some of the most severe consequences of climate change, with implications for the entire world.

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, School of Physics at NUI Galway, says: “To solve societal challenges like climate change, we can’t ignore the talents of half the population, women, and especially at the leadership level. Research has shown that diverse groups produce better science, better business, and more creative solutions to problems. We don't just need diversity of people - we need diversity of thought.”

This is the second expedition trip Dr Fairfield will make. In June 2017 Jessamyn completed a two-week Arctic Circle residency program on board a ship that brought together scientists and artists who together looked at ways of highlighting the importance of the Arctic and how the changes there will affect humanity. During the trip Dr Fairfield built a detector out of ice to capture energy from cosmic particles passing through.

Homeward Bound was founded 10 years ago by Fabian Dattner (an Australian leadership activist and consultant), in collaboration with Antarctic marine scientist Jess-Melbourne Thomas. Together, they garnered the support of significant scientific bodies and women of influence, created a strong leadership team and teaching faculty to get the project off the ground. In 2015, the project went viral and the first leadership programme and Antarctic voyage took place in 2016.

Dr Fairfield has opened a crowdfunding page to support this year’s programme and funds raised will go towards the Homeward Bound programme costs, which cover leadership coaching and tools, visibility and science instruction, and of course, the capstone voyage to Antarctica in November 2019 with 100 women in STEM from around the world. The programme is also funded in part by the Office of Equality and Diversity at NUI Galway.

For more about Homeward Bound, visit:

Visit Jessamyn’s crowdfunding page at:

To read Dr Fairfield’s blog ‘In Search of Polar Perspectives’ visit:


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