The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonOur alumni

Raeanne Miller  MSc Oceanography, 2009

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Knowledge Exchange Fellow and Researcher in marine renewable energy at the Scottish Association for Marine Science

Raeanne Miller 's Photo

Dr Raeanne Miller (MSc Oceanography, 2009) is one of only 78 women globally to have been selected for the first female-only scientific expedition to Antarctica. Here she explains the significance of the trip.

While my MSc gave me the skills I needed to successfully pursue a PhD in marine science, it also gave me a really broad knowledge base in oceanography, which has been incredibly valuable. It also gave me valuable skills to work across diverse teams.

Why did you choose to study at Southampton?

I chose Southampton mainly because of the courses offered and the opportunities provided by the National Oceanography Centre Southampton. I have always loved the sea so oceanography was an obvious choice, and the course at Southampton seemed to be the most well-rounded, giving you a solid grounding in all aspects of oceanography. That flexibility was really attractive to me.

What are your best memories of Southampton?

They centre on the fantastic weather – heading out for a morning run on the Southampton Common, or enjoying the sunshine with friends from my course and putting the world to right over a pint at the Cowherds pub.

What do you do now?

I am a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Knowledge Exchange Fellow and researcher in marine renewable energy at the Scottish Association for Marine Science. My role is really varied. My research focuses on investigating the interactions between man-made structures and the marine environment, and how these structures mediate changes in habitat provisioning and species biogeography. As a knowledge exchange fellow, I also work to develop links between research, industry, policy, and regulation within the marine renewable energy industry.

You have been selected for the Homeward Bound programme. Can you tell us more about this?

Homeward Bound is a programme on transformational leadership and strategic initiative, teamed with a cutting-edge science. It focuses on climate, biological, and earth system research and involves 78 women scientists from 11 different countries.

In the context of a twenty-day expedition to Antarctica, Homeward Bound will explore and develop the capacity of these scientists for leadership in the face of global environmental change. I was selected as one of three UK-based women to participate in the inaugural 2016 programme, but there are plans for a 10-year initiative to build a 1,000-strong global collaboration of women in science, who have had the same experience at sea together. We can work together to encourage each other to stay in science, to play a role in shaping policy and decision-making, and proactively contribute to a sustainable world.

What is the significance of it being a female-only trip?

Women make up a significant percentage of graduates in scientific fields, and make up a substantial part of the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce, but yet occupy a minority of professorial and executive decision-making roles across the world. Homeward Bound is bringing together women working across various stages of our scientific careers, in an initiative where we are all equal.

We are already working together and developing a support network for each other, which has never existed before, which is so empowering. To me, the Women in STEM movement seems to have reached critical mass, and this kind of women-only trip feels like it can tip us over the edge, really inspiring action and developing extraordinary new collaborations between women in science worldwide.

What do you think will be the most challenging and exciting parts of the trip?

The most challenging part will be the leadership elements – really thinking introspectively about myself, about my personal goals, and what I really want to achieve over my career and beyond.

The most exciting part will be seeing sea ice and icebergs. I can’t quite convey in words how excited I am to arrive in Argentina, sail down the Beagle Channel, and cross the Drake Passage towards the Antarctic Peninsula. I’m grinning just thinking about it!

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