Adventure of Science: Women and Glaciers in Central Asia

“Adventure of science” proposes field trainings in geoscience for young women of Central Asia. It targets essentially young women at the beginning of their scientific studies, because they are at a critical decision-making process in their education when a boost of confidence, strong role models, and new knowledge of what a science career offers can have great influence on their futures. The on-the-field exploration of geoscience topics, such as cryospheric sciences, climate change and alpine ecology is intended to encourage the participants’ interest and curiosity and to provide them with the confidence to pursue the career of their choice.
The trainings are open to young women (18 to 25 years old) from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. The selection of participants is designed to integrate women of diverse cultural and social backgrounds from Central Asia with an equal participation from each country. The program is tuition-free and all necessary equipment is provided. The trainings are organized in a single-gender format, including the instructor team and mountain guides, providing an environment in which the participants are not exposed to any social concerns and pressure of mixed gender groups.
This program was initiated in the second phase of the CICADA project to promote gender balance in science and to support young female researchers from Central Asia. The program is built around three pillars: 1. a field training in geoscience to familiarize participants with new topics and scientific methods 2. a post-training mentorship to maintain the communication with participants and provide support, assistance, and advice for their careers 3. a solid participation of female scientists from the countries of Central Asia as instructors, who are trained in organizational and teaching skills. The partnership with local universities and institutions of research and mountaineering is central for the “Adventure of Science” project as it enables the trained young women to build their scientific network locally. The three pillars of the program are designed to ensure the sustainability of the project: it promotes a future (mid to long-term perspective) local organization and management of the project. Indeed, a step-wise hand-over of responsibility to promising female scientists will allow “Adventure of Science” to flourish in the countries of Central Asia.
The program was successfully realized in a bilingual english-russian format in September 2019, with 10 participants, 2-4 science instructors and 1 mountain guide. They spent 10 days in the Ala Archa national Park at Ak-Say Glacier in Kyrgyzstan, exploring geoscientific topics and developing their own personalized research projects. These projects were then completed at the Central-Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and presented by participants in a public event. This maximized the outreach of the project and, hopefully, encouraged other young women to proceed as cryospheric or climate scientists. Two pandemic-friendly formats were organized online in the summers of 2020 and 2021 and the results of these “Adventure of Science at Home” were presented in online public events with contributions from international female researchers and artists.
The end of the pandemic will allow us to bring back the adventure on the field with a new 2022 version of “Adventure of Science”!



  1. Empowering young women through science and wilderness exploration.
  2. Motivating and supporting young women to proceed as cryospheric scientists to increase gender balance within the scientific community in Central Asia.
  3. Encouraging National Universities to include young female scientists into academic activities and scientific research

Duration: 2019-2025

Funded by: Mainly financed by the University of Fribourg under the CROMO-ADAPT project, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and landscape Research (WSL/SLF). The program is organized with the support and the cooperation of UNESCO and Inspiring Girls Expeditions.

Project founders: M. Barandun and Marlene Kronenberg

National and International Collaborators: Tamara Mathys, Kathrin Naegeli, Helga Weber, Anouk Volery, Cassandra Koenig, Laura Niggli, Perizat Imanalieva, Zamira Sarsebekova, Dilorom Jalolova, Anastasiya Cheremnyh. 



Anouk Volery

Department of Geosciences

University of Fribourg
Chemin du Musée 4

CH–1700 Fribourg

   +41 26 300 90 21