PhD candidates Claudia Kielkopf and Rachelle Balez. Photo by Alex Pike.

Claudia Kielkopf is ready to set sail for a three-week voyage to the Southern Ocean and Antarctic as part of Homeward Bound

Homeward Bound is a 12 month leadership program for women in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine). It aims to increase the influence of female scientists and develop their leadership, strategic and communication skills in order to shape policy and decision-making. It also aims to establish a global community of scientists and foster collaborations between them.

Claudia was one of just 80 women selected worldwide to be part of Homeward Bound for 2019. Her passion for science, international experience and commitment to promoting gender equity in science made her a stand out applicant.

“I’m excited and deeply humbled to be part of Homeward Bound. It combines so many topics I’m passionate about — global networks, sustainability and females in science and leadership. I can’t wait to hear the other women’s stories and share the journey towards more diversity in science and leadership!” she explains

Interest in science leads to Alzheimer’s research

Born and raised in Germany, Claudia first developed an interest in biology and chemistry in high school.

She obtained a degree in biochemistry from the University of Tübingen before gaining her masters in experimental and medical biosciences at Linköping University in Sweden. 

Her fascination with the molecular processes of the human body led her to focus her studies on one of the most pervasive neurodegenerative conditions worldwide, Alzheimer’s disease. She is now based at IHMRI and co-supervised by Professor Brett Garner and Dr Simon Brown. Her PhD focuses on a protein called apolipoprotein-D, which is protective in Alzheimer’s disease. 

“I’m interested in Alzheimer’s disease because even though the disease has been described and known for over 100 years, we can’t cure or prevent it. We can’t even easily and reliably diagnose it. Alzheimer’s is a very complex disease with many factors contributing to the death of nerve cells which makes finding a cure very challenging. I think we need to understand the basis of the disease better and untangle the many contributing factors, as well as the mechanisms the brain has to protect itself,” she adds.

For Claudia, strong female role models have provided vital support and encouragement during her entry into the male-dominated world of health and medical research.

“When I started studying biochemistry, there was only one female professor in an institute with 15 professors and role models therefore were scarce. But I had amazing female supervisors along my way who inspired me to drive for a change.”

Claudia’s supervisors encourage and support her involvement in Homeward Bound and being surrounded by female scientists at IHMRI inspires her. She now wants to acquire the leadership skills necessary to influence the next generation of female scientists.

“I want to grow as a leader to communicate my research to the community more effectively and to inspire others, especially girls, to be interested in science. Through the Homeward Bound training, I also gain strategic skills and an invaluable network of women leaders which will help me support other women,” she concludes.

Help Claudia on her journey

You can help Claudia meet the costs of her participation in the Homeward Bound leadership program. Make a donation on her chuffed webpage.

Media contact

Louise Negline, Communications Coordinator

M: 0417 044 867

e: lnegline@uow.edu.au

Top picture: PhD candidates Claudie Kielkopf and Rachelle Balez. Photo by Alex Pike.

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