The ocean is actually the livelihood of our Pacific Region. With emerging health issues related to diet (imported, processed foods), we must encourage our people to use more of our natural resources sustainably and concurrently ensuring that our marine resources are protected from various environmental impacts arising from climate change, pollution and other anthropogenic activities”- Tuifuisa’a Dr Patila Amosa
Dean of the Faculty of Science at the National University of Samoa, Tuifuisa’a Dr Patila Amosa, is an Oceanographer*.
Her background looks at ocean acidification and impacts on marine life and how ongoing CO2 emissions alter the chemical composition of the ocean. She is especially interested in coastal waters and the impact of land-use activities on seawater chemistry.
This is her story.
“I’ve always been an educator focussing more on teaching and learning in Biology and Chemistry. It was during my postgrad studies that I got more involved in ocean chemistry, hence my current interests.
I think my interest in Science started when I was at college mainly due to the practical nature of science and the delivery mode of my science teachers, especially in chemistry. In relation to environmental science, my interest really started when there was a lot of publicity of emerging environmental problems affecting the world and then moving down to our region and then nationally.
Thus, when I started teaching from college to university level, I tried to integrate these issues in the curriculum mainly to raise awareness of students on these emerging issues but also to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to propose solutions to these issues or to enhance employability opportunities in these fields.
From my experience when I was doing postgrad studies, I realised that there were female students in Marine Science, Oceanography, and so forth from the developed countries, while I was exposed only to oceanography research at a very later stage of education. I was the only female from the Pacific islands in the oceanography lab with most from Europe, America and Asia.
I would strongly advocate for more opportunities for our women and girls to study or work in ocean science.
Young girls can contribute to sustaining our ocean resources in multiple ways starting from raising awareness within their families, village and church groups, schools and participating in small projects or even research on ocean issues.
I think there is always the challenge of being a woman in a male-dominated field where you are not expected to be doing this type of work, especially that “outside” or field work is a man’s work. Additionally, there is the perceived gendered roles of women which could discriminate against them.
One of the ways I overcome these challenges is using my position as a lecturer and Dean of Faculty to raise awareness about environmental issues include climate change impacts on our marine resources and, of course, finding opportunities to raise awareness about ocean acidification.
Through teaching, I also encourage and support our female students to seek opportunities to learn more about this important field.
I think one of the strategies that can address these challenges is building strong networks amongst women working in a common field not only for collaborative activities but also to support each other.
I love the ocean because of the wide diversity of species in marine ecosystems. I also love working with students, providing academic counselling and well as teaching postgrad students on climate change issues.
My advice to other women interested in Oceanography would be to make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Don’t allow barriers to hinder your professional development.” – Women Ocean Leaders at the UN Ocean Conference/SPREP
To read about more Pacific Woman Ocean Leaders, go to bit.ly/2qaceHB online.
*From 5 – 9 June, the United Nations Ocean Conference is underway at the UN Headquarters in New York, bringing the world together to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water. In commemoration of this event we bring you this special celebrating Women Ocean Leaders of Samoa.