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March 8 is International Women’s Day, a global day to celebrate the achievements of women everywhere, raise awareness about continued discrimination based on gender, and take action to promote gender parity. The Galapagos Initiative is home to incredible female leaders and scientists; since the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) was founded in 2011, over 50 women have led research across more than 74 research projectsToday, we celebrate International Women’s Day with Alice Skehel, a PhD student at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Selfie of Alice Skehel on the beach

The University of the Sunshine Coast is one of the schools in the International Galapagos Science Consortium, which also includes James Cook University in Australia and North Carolina State University in the U.S. The Consortium is designed to offer a global scientific network of institutions and scholars, including scientists like Alice, to generate innovative study of island ecosystems.

As a member of the Consortium, Alice is connected to the facilities and researchers at the GSC in her own work, through which she studies how human influences impact some of the rarest oceanic birds in the Galapagos Islands, such as flightless cormorants. 

Alice found the GSC in 2016 when she started volunteering as an undergraduate. From there, she connected with researchers who invited her to join their work. This ultimately led to the invitation to join the University of the Sunshine Coast, who expressed that they were looking to support more students and projects in the Galapagos. 

“I am now the Principal Investigator of my own project collaborating with other amazing researchers in the islands,” Alice said.

A huge part of Alice’s success working with the GSC has been the women who work there with her.

“I am beyond proud to work with the many Ecuadorian women at the Galapagos Science Center that are running their own research projects, managing the laboratories, logistics and equipment, coordinating often difficult partnerships with multiple organizations or the administration that is an essential part of working in the Islands. Without these women my work would not be possible!”

Alice also offers her own perspective on International Women’s Day: “A ‘Women’s Day’ may feel unnecessary to those who are unaware of the issues that still persist with harassment, unequal pay and opportunities, discrimination, and inequalities at home. International Women’s Day is a chance to celebrate all the women that take this on and still bring positivity to their work and life and to all the other people that empower women.” 

By Andy Little ‘24

Read our full International Women’s Day story here.

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