In a remote expanse of the frigid southern continent, Dr. Tal Luzzatto Knaan and Prof. Tali Mass, esteemed researchers from the Charni School of Marine Sciences at the University of Haifa, proudly unfurled the Israeli flag this week as part of an international mission. The pair, engaged in diverse scientific pursuits ranging from functional metabolomics to the physiology of corals and marine animals, found themselves in Antarctica as participants in the “Homeward Bound” program.
The planned Antarctic expedition predated the eruption of the war against Hamas, but the researchers were resolute in their intention to hoist both the flag of Israel and the banner of Haifa University in this remote locale. In the wake of the war, the symbolic act of raising the Israeli flag amidst the icy expanses of Antarctica took on heightened significance for Dr. Luzzatto Knaan and Prof. Mass, turning a planned moment into an “extremely exciting” affirmation.
Their participation in “Homeward Bound,” an international initiative uniting women with backgrounds in STEMM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine), aligns with the broader mission of creating a global network of female scientists poised to lead and address worldwide challenges.
Accompanied by many women from around the globe on their expedition, the Israeli scientists seized the opportunity to engage in conversations about their homeland, particularly the plight of hostages. Undeterred by initial reservations regarding political discussions, Dr. Luzzatto Knaan and Prof. Mass persisted, sharing their unique perspective on the situation in Israel with fellow participants. Utilizing photos and videos, they conveyed the realities of the hostage situation, confident that their efforts contributed to a deeper understanding among those encountering this information for the first time.