When planning an expedition, it’s essential you put together the strongest possible team, capable of achieving your goals. The challenge is to pick individuals who will get on under almost any circumstance; not something altogether easy from the comfort of a warm and sunny Sydney. Skill sets are one thing but an ability to get on with one another and muck in when the time comes is a very close second priority. The Antarctic explorers Douglas Mawson and Ernest Shackleton were great leaders in this respect. They could recognize the potential in individuals from twenty paces. Shackleton once famously spotted a future expedition member travelling by on the upper deck of a London bus; the great Anglo-Irish explorer rushed outside and secured his participation with much success. Mawson followed Shackleton’s lead in this respect and built his Antarctic ventures around individuals he liked and admired. The key thing was these great explorers and their contemporaries used every avenue possible to build success.
In this day and age, we’re extremely fortunate we don’t have to rely on public transport to chose team members. Last month we invited applications from PhD students to join the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014. Students were asked to make a two-minute YouTube movie detailing how they would communicate the science on the expedition to the rest of the world. Chris Fogwill and I have been blown away by the response. In total, we received 67 applications and the quality was staggering. The films are of an incredible standard, with individuals speaking with confidence and passion about what they will bring to the team. But therein lies the problem. We can’t take them all. We only budgeted funds to support four students on the AAE and it’s clear this is just not enough. There is a new generation of science communicators coming through and we desperately need to support them, to give individuals experience in one of the most extreme and challenging environments on our planet. With this in mind we’ve started an Indiegogo campaign to help fund two more students to join us on our Antarctic venture. We need your help to take more students to Antarctica. Any donations you can make will go a long way.
Please pass on the word!