NUI Galway Nanoscientist Voyaging to Antarctica for Women’s Leadership

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, a Nanoscientist from the School of Physics at NUI Galway is fundraising for a new groundbreaking leadership programme for women.  Entitled Homeward Bound, the programme is designed for women working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Homeward Bound launches with a research trip to the Antarctica this November.  The aim is to heighten the influence and impact women have in making decisions that shape the planet.

About The Program

Launched in 2016, the inaugural programme was the largest ever female expedition to Antarctica.  Taking place over the course of a year, Homeward Bound supports women in science to significantly improve their clarity, confidence, shared vision and strategic capability.

It helps women to take up leadership roles globally and to proactively contribute to a sustainable world both individually and collectively.  At the end of the programme this November, Dr Fairfield and her cohort will travel to Antarctica, an iconic and challenging landscape that is experiencing some of the most severe consequences of climate change, with implications for the entire world.

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, School of Physics at NUI Galway, says:

“To solve societal challenges like climate change, we can’t ignore the talents of half the population, women, and especially at the leadership level.”

Fairfield is pushing for more diversity.  “Research has shown that diverse groups produce better science, better business, and more creative solutions to problems. We don’t just need diversity of people – we need diversity of thought.”

This is the second expedition trip Dr Fairfield will make.

Past Expeditions

In June 2017 Jessamyn completed a two-week Arctic Circle residency program on board a ship that brought together scientists and artists.  Together they looked at ways of highlighting the importance of the Arctic and how the changes there will affect humanity.

During the trip Dr Fairfield built a detector out of ice to capture energy from cosmic particles passing through.

alt="woman standing in artic circle holding seaweed"
Nanoscientist, Dr Jessamyn Fairfield pictured during her two-week Arctic Circle residency program in 2017. Photo: Jessamyn Fairfield








History of Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound was founded 10 years ago by Fabian Dattner (an Australian leadership activist and consultant), in collaboration with Antarctic marine scientist Jess-Melbourne Thomas.

Together, they garnered the support of significant scientific bodies and women of influence.  This helped them create a strong leadership team and teaching faculty to get the project off the ground.  In 2015, the project went viral and the first leadership programme and Antarctic voyage took place in 2016.

Where To Offer Support

Dr Fairfield has opened a crowdfunding page to support this year’s programme.  Funds raised will go towards the Homeward Bound programme costs, which cover leadership coaching and tools, visibility and science instruction.  The funds will also cover the capstone voyage to Antarctica in November 2019 with 100 women in STEM from around the world.

alt="woman taking picture of artic circle"
Dr Jessamyn Fairfield pictured during her two-week Arctic Circle residency program in 2017. Photo: Jessamyn Fairfield


About Homeward Bound Projects

Why Women?

Despite making up 45% of the global workforce, women are globally underrepresented in leadership positions. This is despite women comprising 57% of recent college graduates.

By providing these women with leadership and strategic skills, a sound understanding of the science, and a strong purposefully developed network, the Homeward Bound initiative will enhance their ability to impact policy and decision-making for a sustainable future.

Why Antarctica?

Regions of Antarctica are showing the fastest responses to some of the global sustainability problems the world currently faces. 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.

This iconic environment has captured the imagination of leaders in the past and the expedition experience of the Antarctic component of the Homeward Bound program creates strong bonds between participants.

Why Now?

If not now, when?  We need to act now because the sustainability of the planet is in crisis and so is the state of leadership in the world.   Homeward Bound aims to contribute to both these global issues.

About NUI Galway

The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement.

Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education.

NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its performance in international rankings. The University is one of the few Irish Universities to have risen in the rankings in four of the last five years including the Times Higher Education (THE), World University Rankings and the QS World University Rankings.

With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical DevicesInsight Centre for Data AnalyticsWhitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal ChangeMoore InstituteInstitute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy.


For more about Homeward Bound, visit:

Visit Jessamyn’s crowdfunding page at:

To read Dr Fairfield’s blog ‘In Search of Polar Perspectives’ visit:

For more information about Homeward Bound contact Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, School of Physics, NUI Galway at or 091 492494.

For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Press and Information Executive, NUI Galway at or 091 495695.

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