Brussels Scientist Ambassador Sigrid Maebe will travel to Antarctica next year

BX1 INFORMATION | Join Homeward Bound, an initiative for women’s leadership in science and technology.

It has been several years since then the Homeward Bound aims to offer more leadership to women And “lead the way for a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable“, which he has been organizing since 2016 all-female expeditions to Antarctica. Therefore, more than five hundred female scientists, active in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) have already been selected worldwide to participate in this program. Three Belgians are now part of it, including a woman from Brussels.

Thereby, Sigrid Maebe, 52, will fly in November 2023 to Argentina and Ushuaia, then to Antarctica, as part of the fifth cohort of Homeward Bound (“TeamHB5”), whose ship will depart November 3-22.

There were about 350 women who had applied to be part of the fifth cohort when I applied. The documents weren’t easy to fill out and I made a short film to explain my reasons. Homeward Bound was selected based on my background, the work I do, my leadership vision, my willingness to learn, and my willingness to spread the message of the importance of women in science.“, Sigrid Maebe tells us.

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An inspiring career path

Sigrid Maebe has an atypical career. Graduated from KULeuven, “I am marine biologist by training. Inside the aquarium Marine life in Blankenberge, I was a ‘display manager’: I was in charge of the aquariums, fish, seal rescue center and educational projects. I’ve been doing this job for five years, what a great time!“, he explains to us. Then she joins the Belgian Institute of Natural Sciencesfor sixteen years. I was in charge of all communications related to North Sea research“. She worked for five years as scientific communicator for Belplantthe Belgian association for the protection of crops, which works in particular in the field of sustainable agriculture.

In Belplant I am the communication expert: website, contacts with journalists, social media, events, etc. Plant protection is a very interesting but difficult area to communicate. It’s very interesting and refreshingfind out how the agricultural world works“, says Sigrid Maebe, who specifies that she now works in Schaerbeek, within the BluePoint complex.

Among the other two Belgian scientists leaving for Antarctica next year, we find ourselves Gudrun De Boeckprofessor in the Department of Biology of the University of Antwerp, e Celine Hanzen, ecologist and project manager at Biotope Environnement in Étalle. The latter will be part of the sixth cohort of women “which will leave a few days after our group, with another ship“, specifies Sigrid Maebe.

Sigrid Maebe (right), with Gudrun De Boeck (center) and Céline Hanzen (left)

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A long-awaited journey

Self the trip was to take place in 2020, this has been postponed due to the pandemic. “I’m really happy to go there. For me, Antarctica represents the immense beauty and at the same time the vulnerability of the Earth. Going there is a childhood dream“, says Sigrid Maebe, “Like all other Homeward Bound attendees, I realize I have the privilege of going there. We are convinced of it this trip will make us ambassadors of ice creamto talk about this vulnerable beauty of Antarctica and the Earth“.

He also specifies that while this trip will obviously have an impact, with a significant carbon footprintwe will do everything to compensate for the trip as much as possible“.

On site, “we will continue our leadership training aboard ship : we will talk about strategy, visibility, science, etc. We will present our professional projects, to get to know each other better and to be able to work together after our trip. We will also of course trips and stops to see penguins, glaciers, etc“. A visit to the scientific bases should also be planned.

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Homeward Bound contribution

If the trip to Antarctica will be the climax of the journey of these women within the homecoming”,the rest of the trip has already given me so much : getting to know myself, through lessons with a personal coach to better understand one’s character and how to work better with others; how to improve your visibility to change things, etc.“, explains.

And also to evoke the contribution of being”eighty women from different scientific fields, from different countries, cultures and private situations: it is enriching to be in contact with all these women. For example, a few weeks ago, Australian professor Susan Scott, from the second cohort, came to Brussels to receive a prestigious prize in physics. You asked if, within the network, anyone works in Brussels. We met and ate on rue des Bouchers to talk about science and the world for hours when we didn’t know each other before.“.

ArBr – Photo: Facebook and Flickr / StormPetrel1 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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