Polar Postdoc Leadership Resource Guide

This introduction was created by Dr. Radiance Calmer, Dr. Jack Conroy, and Dr. Taylor Stinchcomb.

In any other profession, you would already be considered leaders, not trainees.” The sentence was declared in a discussion during the Polar Postdoc Leadership Workshop, and many heads in the room nodded in acknowledgement of the statement. During the week, support and practical tools were provided to develop the notion of “leadership” from a vague definition to a compelling role with tangible actions and immediacy. The postdoc stage comes with unique challenges for work and stressful situations, particularly related to uncertainty in funding and future positions. A postdoc appointment often involves moving, building new networks, and navigating fundamental life plans. The resource guide of the Polar Postdoc Leadership Workshop, which occurred in May 2023, does not only aim to summarize the discussions but also to provide efficient support for general topics we all consider as a postdoc (e.g., proposal writing, science communication, etc.) and other important themes for which information might be arduous to obtain (e.g., inclusivity, work-life balance, etc.). As participants in the workshop, we felt privileged to be in attendance at the University of Colorado Mountain Research Station and to engage directly with twelve mentors, panelists, and speakers from different backgrounds. The resource guide results from the aspiration to share the valuable content of the workshop and make it accessible to other postdocs in polar science who were not in the room with us.  

Leadership in polar science is critical today. In 2023, Antarctic sea ice extent reached a record low (NSIDC, 2023), and Arctic warming reached a rate four times faster than the rest of the globe (Rantanen et al., 2022). The Polar Postdoc Leadership Workshop investigated what it means to be a leader in polar science during this period of environmental and societal change. The resource guide explores big themes in polar science and addresses topics that are often overlooked but are nonetheless essential to ensuring that polar scientists support a more resilient human society. Inclusivity was a cross-cutting theme of the workshop and is addressed in each individual section. Relevant links, literature, and materials are provided for each topic.  

The resource guide is organized into five main sections which are currently under construction

1. Collaboration, inclusive mentoring and networking 

2. Inclusive pedagogy, Belonging, Access, Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion (BAJEDI), work-life balance and sustainability

3. Science communication, outreach and engagement 

4. Proposal writing 

5. Big science themes and connecting observations with models