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  • Writer's pictureAPECS Belgium


In an extremely connected world like the one we live in today, mass communication has become the dominant drive in our society. Today's global digitalization makes possible the large-scale propagation of countless pieces of information and often, unfortunately, the propagation of false and non-fact-based news.

Within this framework, the scientific world is slowly realizing that in order to keep up with the new generation, it is essential to disseminate its scientific findings to a wider public. Today's scientists can no longer afford to remain within the four walls of their laboratory, with their nose in Excel tables or in the microscopes, but must learn to communicate.

Most young scientists, and fortunately many of their supervisors, have understood this. Today, most researchers spend countless hours on different social media platforms or personal websites (and/or blogs), disseminating the outputs of their studies and defending the importance of any small scientific progress in their own field.

In this context, polar research does not make a difference. The Arctic and Antarctic are ecosystems as remote from our society as they are important. Home to many species of organisms and important rare elements, the two poles are also the two regions most affected by dramatic environmental changes caused by climate change.

Since the Belgian expedition to Antarctica 150 years ago, Belgium has been at the center of international affairs concerning the South Pole. In recent years, like other countries in Europe, Belgium has also shifted its gaze towards the Arctic, where the compass of the technological future is now focused.

Watch the full gallery of the event here. Pictures from Valentina Savaglia & Louise Delhaye.

Underlying the importance of Science Communication and Education was the main goal of the APECS Belgium conference entitled “New frontiers of Belgian Polar Science” held in the occasion of APECS Belgium’s first Annual Networking event. The conference was held at the historic Demeuldre’s building, home of the “Seas and Oceans” Exhibit organized by the association TALK CEC until the end of June 2023. In this wonderful frame where music, art and science meet every day, APECS Belgium invited three speakers to take the floor: Mieke Sterken, science communicator of the International Polar Foundation, and Nathan Goffart and Alexandre Buslain, participants of the renowned NANOK expedition, which the whole of Belgium has followed with interest thanks to the acclaimed movie “La traversée”, distributed among others by the RTBF.

The main purpose of this conference was to demonstrate to young polar researchers, and their PIs, how and how much to communicate their science and how nowadays everyone, including ordinary citizens like Nathan and Alexandre, through their passion for nature and sport, can contribute to raising awareness of the general public and science. All this in an effort to try to bring the citizen closer to the scientist.

In addition to the sixty people who attended the presentations, it was also an opportunity for many APECS members to get together again. Here are some of their impressions of the event:

"Wow, the APECS first networking event was absolutely fantastic! Listening to the speakers was truly invigorating and offered a unique perspective on the intersection of science and communication. The event showcased the importance of effectively conveying scientific knowledge to a broader audience, and it was exciting to learn about how adventure can help science and vice versa. Talk CEC provided an inspiring and welcoming environment where science and art meet for everyone." Alexis
"Such a fantastic first edition of APECS Belgium's annual Belgium-wide Polar Networking Event! We had at heart organizing this event that we would reunite people working on the polar regions from all corners of Belgium and I believe it was a great success! I saw people connecting with others who'd they'd never met with before, and was told that there was even a little group who went off together for dinner from a mix of institutions, having met at the event for the first time, so hooray! Of course, there's always room for improvement and we hope to have even more institutes/universities/policy makers present next year! Because there will be next year (so stay tuned!). I had a great time hearing the speakers share their views on science outreach, and particular the little wink from Mieke Sterken to the PIs in the room to encourage and support their ECSs who are keen to do more. Alexandre Buslain and Nathan Goffart made us live vicariously through the Nanok expedition and it made me want to watch La Traversee again! And last but not least, it was so cool to walk around the Talk CEC art exhibit (for the third time lol!) and see our collaboration with the Wallstreet Colors collective painted across an entire staircase, wao... it was more beautiful than I ever could envision it. I hope it stays up there for a long time! I especially love the little beagle-eyed crustaceans on the sea floor bottom, the diatoms floating around and the tiny specks of mercury floating around (even if it is a sad story of pollution) that people might not notice but the artists had at heart to add in there. Thank you! And special thanks to the Talk CEC Gallery organisers for hosting us and APECS International for sponsoring us for the event! Till next year!" Marie
"I hadn't yet had the opportunity to visit Talk CEC and their exhibit before our networking evening, and what a pleasant surprise it was: the venue is charming, and the works of art immediately transport us to the sea. I was delighted to see my APECS friends again, and to count some sixty people present for the two conferences, which convinced me even more (if that was possible) of the importance and pleasure of sharing science. The networking that followed enabled me to meet many people who are just as passionate about the polar environment, and new collaborations may well follow. Stay tuned…" Sarah
"It was so great to see other APECS Belgium active members. As we are working in different places in Belgium, it was so good to meet. I loved the APECS Be painting, it was the first time I saw it. The talks were really intersting and made by passionate people. I really had the impression to be on the Greenland's wall with the NANOK team when they explained the climbing part of their epxedition. It was really a success, can't wait for the next polar meeting event." Elise
"I met a lot of nice and enthousiastic young researchers (who might even join APECS next year!) and it was really nice to connect with people working in similar (or very different) fields. And I got to talk to people I know but I don't have the opportunity to see very often, so it was really nice to catch up. I also got feedback from people in my lab that the talks were super interesting!" Constance

APECS Belgium would like to express again its gratitude to TALK CEC for hosting us, and APECS International for sponsoring!

Written by Louise Delhaye and Marianna Pinzone

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