Journey from the Northern Rivers to Antarctica
KYOGLE-born marine biologist Samantha Reynolds is set to embark on a year-long leadership journey to Antarctica as part of Homeward Bound 2018.
She is one of 70 women chosen from around the world to participate in the initiative designed to empower women in science.
Ms Reynolds' scientific journey began over 40 years ago, growing up in the 1970s on a large bush block in a small creek valley 20km outside Kyogle.
"It was a great childhood, but looking back, must have been pretty hard work for my parents," she said.
"We had a vegetable garden and orchard, and kept chooks, goats, geese, a cow and horses at various times. I grew up surrounded by nature and animals and I think this is where my love of biology started".
Despite taking out the prize for Biology in Year 12 at Lismore High School, it took Ms Reynolds another 22 years to find her way back to science.
"I didn't see science as a career option for me at the time, because I lacked female scientific role models and because I hadn't done physics or chemistry in senior school," she said.
But, in 2016, at the age of 44, she graduated with Honours from her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Queensland and now works as a marine biologist with ECOCEAN, a not for profit organisation that conducts research on the world's biggest fish, the whale shark.
"I recently made my dream of becoming a marine biologist a reality and love knowing that my work is helping to solve some of the mysteries still surrounding these endangered giants, which will ultimately support their long-term conservation," Ms Reynolds said.
"I am passionate about what I do and want people to know that it's never too late to keep learning and follow your dreams."
The Homeward Bound project aims to create a global community of 1000 women scientists, dedicated to changing the way we treat our planet.
Each cohort of women undergoes a 12-month, leadership coaching and training program, culminating in a three-week expedition to Antarctica.
"Together we will witness first-hand the influence of human activities on this wild and unique continent," Ms Reynolds said.
"The voyage will create strong bonds, encourage extraordinary collaborations between us and inspire us to address the complex issues affecting the future of the planet."
Homeward Bound aims to address the gender imbalance in science and leadership positions and to equip women to shape policy and decision making as it affects the future of our planet.
"Through my participation in Homeward Bound, I hope to inspire girls and women, of all ages, to pursue careers in science. Together we can make a difference to our world," Ms Reynolds said.