Claudia is Homeward Bound for Women in Science

By Claudia Kielkopf

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Join me on my journey towards gender equity in science

Hello, how nice that you found this page! My name is Claudia Kielkopf and I'm on an incredible journey together with around 250 other female scientists to global female leadership. This journey will have me explore my potential and bring me to Antarctica. That is what I need your help with, so please read for yourself and check the comments for updates!

Mother Earth needs her daughters

We live in an ever-changing world, in which we face big challenges such as climate change, fake news, new and old diseases. Therefore, we need strong voices to advocate for a change in the way we do politics and in how we live together as society. Within the science community, we have all we need to be those strong voices: Knowledge, passion and a vision.

But so far, these voices are predominantly male

The higher up you look at the career ladder in science, the fewer women you'll find. When I started studying biochemistry, there was a single female professor in an institute with 15 professors. It's not that men can't do it - it's that women do it differently and that more diversity helps achieving our aims. That's why I and many other great female scientists put ourselves forward to grow as leaders as part of a year-long leadership programme called Homeward Bound.

Photo by Jess Melbourne-Thomas

What is Homeward Bound?

The vision of Homeward Bound is to equip 1000 female leaders in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) over 10 years with leadership and strategic skills so they can influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet. This involves forming a global network, monthly meetings, leadership diagnostics and strategy training during a 12-month period.This lays the foundation for a life-changing three-week trip to Antarctica on a ship with 80 women to continue the coaching and learn about climate change.

Why go to Antarctica for that?

Antarctica is one of the regions in the world which is affected by climate change most. By travelling there ourselves and see the consequences of climate change with our own eyes, we gain critical insights into global-scale change, and the influence of human activities on environmental change. Furthermore, bonding with other female leaders and forming a network in a wild and remote place like Antarctica is an intense experience which in itself will inspire action and arouse exceptional responses.

Two cohorts (HB2016 and HB2018) were already on their way and now it's time for HB2019 - and that includes me!

How you can help me setting sail to Antarctica

Delivering a year-long leadership training and sending 80 women to Antarctica has its cost as you can imagine. The total cost of the programme is 40,000 AUD per person, however, Dattner Grant Pty Ltd, partners of the programme will generously cover 20,000 AUD. It's up to me to raise the remaining funds which are as follows:

Funds to raise

Ship to Antarctica for 21 nights: 20,000 AUD

Operational costs: 1000 AUD

Hotel in Ushuaia, Argentina, for 6 nights: 1000 AUD

Return flights to Sydney-Ushuaia: 3200 AUD

Although I aim to raise funds via different sources including the institutions I am aligned with, this is a lot of money to fund by myself as a PhD student on a scholarship. That's why I ask you to consider contributing to my involvement in Homeward Bound. Any donation, may it be small or big, brings me a step closer to being a part of Homeward Bound and going to Antarctica. Thank you for supporting such a worthy cause as Homeward Bound!

As a bonbon for your support of my leadership journey, I'll create some wanna-have perks which you can select on the right panel.

Why me for Homeward Bound 2019?

My fascination for science is driven by the urge to understand the complicated molecular processes in our cells. I'm amazed that, despite such complexity, cells usually work absolutey fine and that we live longer today than ever before. At the same time, one small mistake is enough to give rise to a cascade leading to diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer’s disease is the disease I’m most interested in. It’s because the Alzheimer's was first described and researched over 100 years ago and although we know much more about the mechanism of the disease today, we still can’t cure or prevent it. We can’t even diagnose it easily and reliably. As a disease of age, Alzheimer’s will become an even bigger problem in the future since people are living longer these days.

This passion has led my way from Germany to Sweden for my Master's studies and now to Australia for my PhD. My project at the University of Wollongong investigates a protein called apolipoprotein-D which is protective in Alzheimer's disease. I elucidate the structure of this protein in order to understand its function better. Additionally, I use cutting-edge detection methods to study the binding partners of apolipoprotein-D and to find out if this binding behaviour is changed in Alzheimer's disease.

Besides my fascination for science, I am also passionate about gender equity in science and know from own experience that we are stronger together. I want to grow as a leader to communicate my research to the community more effectively and to inspire others, especially girls, to be interested in science. Through the Homeward Bound training, I gain strategic skills and an invaluable network of women leaders which will help me support other women.

I'm excited and deeply humbled to get to be part of Homeward Bound. It combines so many topics I'm passionate about - global networks, sustainability and females in science and leadership. I can't wait to hear the other women's stories and share the journey towards more diversity in science and leadership!

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Claudia Kielkopf