Katja's Homeward Bound Journey

By Katja Ovchinnikova

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Hello and aloha!

My name is Katja Ovchinnikova, I'm a scientist, mostly located in Germany, California, and Hawaiʻi. My background is in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and computer science. My application fields include language processing, robotics, computer vision, computational biology. I've been also working on applications in marine science and ecology. 

Blue whale automatic photo-ID

Being closely connected with the Hawaiian culture, I'm interested in issues relevant to indigenous people in academia. I also have a deep interest in unconscious bias studies, social-political theories, and ethics in science.

What 's the problem?

Existing leadership systems in academia (and beyond) benefit a privileged minority at the expense of many other people. In many research institutions, idealistic goals of science are replaced with career building and economic profit.

We need diversity in academia and leadership structures; diversity in terms of gender, race, cultural background, perspective, research questions. 

We need science to serve our planet and communities and address urgent environmental problems like climate change, destruction of ecosystems, plastic overload, pollution, loss of biodiversity.

Collective human action is required to steer the earth system away from a potential "Hothouse Earth" pathway and stabilize it in a habitable state. Source: Steffen et al., 2018 

What I'm doing about it

I’m participating in the Homeward Bound program. The program is intended to create an international network of 1000 women in STEMM disciplines over 10-years in order to influence policy and decision making as it shapes our planet. 

In the framework of the program, I will be focusing on:

  • diversity in academia
  • alternative leadership structures
  • science serving our planet and communities

Read my Homeward Bound blog

Watch my video discussing these topics:

00:39 Role of academia

01:57 Science as a race

07:02 Diversity

11:54 Unconscious bias

16:21 Sense of place

24:06 Conservation

What is Homeward Bound?

Homeward Bound is a training program for women in STEMM aimed at equipping the participants with global leadership and strategic tools. The program runs for a year (and beyond) and culminates in three weeks in Antarctica. 

Antarctica has been chosen because it offers an opportunity to observe first hand the influence of human activities on the environment and provides insights into the global-scale change required.

The program is specifically designed to empower women, because despite making up 45% of the global workforce, women are still globally underrepresented in leadership positions.

In 2018, Homeward Bound reached 750 million people. The program was founded by Fabian Dattner. Watch Fabian's talk.

Join me on this journey

The total program value per person is $30,860. Around half of it is sponsored by the Dattner Grant Pty Ltd, partner of the program. The participants have to fundraise $17,000 to cover the Antarctica trip. 

This is where I need your help! If you like the idea of the program and believe that my participation will have a positive impact, please consider donating. 

Please also consider sharing the link to my donation page and the video in your social media.

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    Offline donation

Team Members

Katja Ovchinnikova

Alberto Bailoni

Carl Schultz

John Burns

Lisa Mason

Shefali Sharma

Theodore Alexandrov