Ling's Homeward Bound voyage for the better future of our planet

By Ling Sun

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My name is Ling Sun. I am one of the 95 women all over the globe selected for Homeward Bound Team#4 and about to start a year-long leadership program in November 2018, which concludes in November 2019 in Antarctica.

About Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound is an outreach initiative for women from STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine) backgrounds, set against the backdrop of Antarctica. It aims to heighten the influence and impact of women in making decisions that shape our planet.  It was founded by Australian leadership activist and consultant, Fabian Dattner, in collaboration with Antarctic marine scientist Jess-Melbourne Thomas. The first leadership program and Antarctic voyage started in 2016.

About me

I am now a Postdoctoral Scholar in Physics in California Institute of Technology, a researcher focusing on gravitational-wave science in LIGO Scientific Collaboration. I completed my PhD in Physics in the University of Melbourne. Before becoming a scientist, I was a software engineer and a project manager in IBM China System and Technology Lab, with degrees in Communication and Information Systems from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. (Learn more)

Why Women in STEMM?

Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine (STEMM) are globally underrepresented in leadership positions. This is despite women comprising 57% of recent college graduates. STEMM connect to every aspect of our lives and have a significant impact on our collective future. With a sound understanding of the science, leadership and strategic skills, these women can enhance their impact in policy and decision-making for a sustainable planet.

Why Antarctica?

This is not just an iconic environment of Homeward Bound. Regions of Antarctica are showing the fastest responses to some of the global sustainability problems we currently face. Antarctica offers an unparalleled opportunity to observe first hand the influence of human activities on the environment and provide critical insights into the global-scale change required. A close investigation and direct communications with the science teams promote the understanding of the problems and actions that can be taken. The expedition experience and the extreme conditions also create strong bonds between Homeward Bound participants.

Why me?

I am passionate about science, nature, and our universe. I have been involved in the groundbreaking discoveries and detections of gravitational waves in recent years. The three key founders and investigators were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.

I have been taking leadership roles in research projects in the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. I'm willing to take initiative and promote women's leadership in STEMM. I love our planet Earth, and share the goal of Homeward Bound to build our collective future together. It's now or never. We can make a difference together!

I am always curious about the southmost continent, Antarctica. During my PhD candidature in the University of Melbourne, I was selected among many applicants for a flight journey over Antarctica, demonstrating physics experiments to high school students and explaining the science about our Earth. I have been dreaming of landing on the remarkable continent one day, knowing it better, and contributing my effort to protect it.

(See the mobile app developed by me after this journey here.)

(See the album of Antarctica photos here.)

I appreciate your help

Homeward Bound is largely self-funded, with each participant contributing towards the training program, cost of travel and accommodation. The total value of the program is US$31,000 per participant. We are incredibly grateful to the generous corporate sponsors of Homeward Bound who contribute and offset the cost. Each participant is now required to cover US$17,000 (AU$24,000) mainly for flights, accommodation, ship charter, insurance, clothing and administration, among which I will personally fund US$5,000. I would be incredibly grateful for your generous contribution and support!

(Photo taken by me at the LIGO Livingston detector)

(Photo taken at the celebration of gravitational wave discovery)

(Photo taken by me above Antarctica)

(Photo from Homeward Bound)

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Team Members

Ling Sun