Soil scientist and agricultural systems modeller Bianca Das from Raumati South has been selected as a Homeward Bound participant for 2018-2019.

Homeward Bound is a global 12-month leadership initiative for women with a background in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine).

The global programme aims to equip women with leadership tools to influence policy, decision making and science communication for the future health of the planet, and culminates with a three week intensive training course on a ship in Antarctica.

"The aim of Homeward Bound has always been to identify and foster outstanding leadership potential in STEMM and Bianca is exactly the kind of person I had in mind when I dreamt of this programme," programme founder Fabian Dattner said.


Having studied a Bachelor of Science with honours at Lincoln University, Bianca's interest in the environment was present back when she attended Raumati South School and Paraparaumu College.

She was part of Paraparaumu College's environmental group that campaigned to get recycling bins at the school and has been involved in planting at the Waikanae estuary.

Studying at Lincoln opened Bianca's eyes to agriculture and how environmental problems in New Zealand are closely linked to agriculture.

After completing her degree Bianca did her masters in Australia and now works for CSIRO in Queensland, Australia as a soil scientist.

After seeing a colleague going through the Homeward Bound programme Bianca thought the programme would help her with her personal development as she embarks on further study, starting research for her PhD next month.

"I had a colleague at work that went on the Homeward Bound programme and I saw her blossom as she went through the 12 months.

"There are two main things I'm hoping to get out of the programme. One is my personal development.

"I'm hoping it will give me more drive and keep me aware of where I'm going and of the bigger picture while studying.

"The second is I'd like to improve how we see science communication on a whole.

"It's very easy to be misled in science communication with fake news and articles that might have more of a political basis.

"I'd like to be able to create a medium that doesn't require a high level of understanding in a particular area, some kind of artwork or non-traditional form of communication that can transpose through language and other barriers.

"The marriage of art and science is something I would like to explore as a personal project.

"It will also be amazing to be connected with so many amazing women."

With the first session next month, the programme culminates in a three week trip to Antarctica next November.

"Antarctica has always been a dream of mine.

"There's something about it that captures imaginations as a place that is not owned by anyone, but is looked after by different groups.

"It's definitely a fascinating place."

Bianca's love of the environment and research is evident.

"Even if I wasn't getting paid I'd still be volunteering to do research in this area."

To get to Antarctica Bianca has to raise over $US17,000 by the end of the year.

With the help of her employer and friends and family, Bianca is on her way to raising this money, but still has a long way to go.

"It's one of those things where you have to separate yourself and feeling guilty asking for money as it's not really about me.

"It's about this larger objective, and that's what people want to be contributing to."

To find out more about Bianca's trip or to help her raise funds visit her crowd funding page here for more information.