Wild at Heart: Unveiling the Personal Stories Behind Our Women-Led Team’s Journey into Conservation Science

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The essence of diversity and equality in research extends far beyond mere numerical balance. It is the infusion of varied experiences, perspectives, and ideas that fosters an environment conducive to groundbreaking discoveries and sustainable solutions. Despite the acknowledged importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields to national economies, achieving gender equality in STEM remains a challenge for the majority of countries, regardless of their developmental stage.

Our women-led team exemplifies the transformative power of inclusion in research. Dive into the depths of inspiration as we uncover the heartfelt stories that shaped the careers of our remarkable scientific team on this International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science and conservation?

 

Rachel Graham – Founder and Executive Director

“I am curious about everything, always have been, always wanting to know how things work. Coupled with this burning curiosity is my love of misunderstood and marginalized animals from as long as I can remember, the bats, piranhas, sharks, snakes that people generally revile but we have come to discover are now increasingly endangered. 

Pooling the two led me to delve into science, both terrestrial and marine to answer key questions about species and processes. Highlights of my career have been uncovering the mysteries of the biggest fish, the whale shark and subsequently building the structures of stewardship in several countries and cultures to promote better understanding and conservation of sharks and other large marine creatures.”

Here’s a glimpse of young me in action, working on an early sat tag model in the field.

 

Ivy Baremore – Technical Coordinator, Honduras

“When I tell people I am a marine biologist, a very common reply is ‘Oh that’s what I wanted to be when I was a kid!’ Most people grow out of it, but I never wanted to do anything else. Well, to be fair, I wanted to be a ‘marine biologist artist*’ for a while when I was around 5, but those hopes were quickly dashed by my extreme lack of artistic talent. I still can’t draw a fish. Funnily enough, science and math were never my best subjects at school, and I much preferred language and literature courses, but I always wanted to be in the water. Although I faced challenges with math and chemistry during my school days, I discovered that numbers can truly communicate when applied to a subject one is passionate about. While a significant portion of my current job involves computer screens, the sea remains my primary source of inspiration.”

*Yes, scientific illustration is a real job!

1) Throwing it back to circa 2010 with one of my baby marine biologist moments captured by the river, hanging out with a sturgeon.
2) Clearly, my fascination with sharks began at a very young age.

 

Daneira Brown – Education and Outreach officer, Guna Yala, Panama

“Since my childhood in a Guna community, I have been fortunate to live immersed in an environment where the sea is essential in everyday life. My indigenous roots have allowed me to have a close relationship with the sea, forging a close bond with the ocean through activities such as fishing, sailing and the importance of respecting and preserving our marine environment. I have witnessed the beauty of coral reefs, the vitality of mangroves and the diversity of marine species, but also the ecological challenges we face, such as pollution and habitat degradation. 

These experiences have awakened in me an early awareness of the need to address environmental problems and seek sustainable solutions. The belief that we can improve our interactions with ecosystems motivates me to constantly explore, contribute and learn.”

At the age of 11, learning the ins and outs of sea turtle monitoring.

 

Kirah Forman-CastilloNational Coordinator, Belize

“My entire family has a love for the sea and naturally, that was passed on to me.  My mom often tells the story of how I was in the sea from before I turned a month old.  My father and grandfather were fishermen, and with a small off-the-grid family island, we would spend every vacation there, sometimes for weeks at a time. I had the opportunity to witness marine life up close, and I guess I secretly fell in love with it. Surprisingly, science wasn’t my first choice after leaving high school. However, somehow the lightbulb came on, and I knew that was the path I wanted to take. It’s interesting that all my siblings and I somehow chose career paths leading us towards the sea.

I secured my first job as a biologist with the Belize Audubon Society, where I was introduced to fisheries management, and that’s when it all started coming together. Fishing is in my blood, and contributing to the sector through science to support management is how I make my contribution.”

1) Flashback to my first job, collecting fish landing data. 2) Little me enjoying the sea breeze.

 

Clara Sabal – Research Officer, Belize

“In high school, deciding between arts, science, business, or technical fields arises after the first two years. The decision to choose the sciences was quite straightforward for me because they seemed to open up a world of possibilities, and I was certain that I didn’t want to be confined to a desk for the rest of my life.

The one dedicated class we had outdoors was agriculture, often conducted in the sweltering heat as we attempted to grow crops, with many attempts resulting in failure. When the time came to choose an undergraduate program, my mind drifted back to a memorable family trip to the cayes, specifically to Glover’s Reef Atoll, where I had my first encounter with sharks, albeit baby sharks. It was a new and fascinating experience for me. The memories of that trip lingered in the back of my mind, serving as a reminder that being outdoors in the sun could be less of a chore and more of an adventure, especially with the ocean nearby. This realization guided me toward a path of conservation, shaping the direction of my current endeavors.”

This is me during my university days, participating in a diving for scientists course.

 



We hope to
inspire the new generations of women scientists by sharing our team’s stories. We believe in empowering and nurturing local talents, providing a platform for them to contribute their unique insights to the broader scientific dialogue. This collaborative approach not only strengthens our research but also creates a lasting impact within the communities we engage with.

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Asistente de comunicación (Internship)

MarAlliance es una organización internacional sin ánimo de lucro registrada en EE.UU., Belice, Panamá y Cabo Verde, cuyo objetivo es explorar, facilitar e inspirar cambios positivos para la fauna marina amenazada, especialmente tiburones y rayas, sus hábitats críticos y las comunidades humanas dependientes. Nuestra misión es amplia y ambiciosa, y trabajamos en tres idiomas y en siete países de tres regiones. Ante el declive de muchas poblaciones de megafauna marina, estas especies necesitan una voz fuerte, eficaz y con base científica que las represente para ayudar a los socios dependientes a dar forma a las estrategias y acciones de gestión y conservación para invertir el declive.

Resumen del puesto:

Buscamos a un becario (6 meses) proactivo, con conocimientos digitales y excelente capacidad de redacción y edición de textos, que apoye la creación de contenidos escritos de alta calidad y recursos multicanal para difundir el trabajo que MarAlliance realiza a través de sus plataformas en línea (sitio web, redes sociales, boletín, entre otras) y fuera de línea, y que interactúe con nuestro público externo para contribuir a nuestros objetivos generales de comunicación y marketing. El Asistente de Comunicación dependerá directamente del Coordinador de Comunicación y Marketing, y trabajará en estrecha colaboración con el resto del equipo para apoyarles en los elementos de comunicación de su trabajo.

Las funciones y responsabilidades incluirán, entre otras, las siguientes:

  1. Proporcionar apoyo creativo, editorial y operativo a los proyectos. 
  2. Apoyo en la organización, etiquetado y etiquetado del archivo fotográfico y gestión del archivo de vídeo.
  3. Gestión de la comunidad: Gestionar activamente los canales de medios sociales, así como identificar nuevas tendencias y oportunidades de colaboración. Generar reels y visuales.
  4. Apoyo en la redacción de artículos de blog (SEO) y contenido de boletines. 
  5. Ayudar a construir y desarrollar materiales, herramientas y acciones para campañas (online y offline).
  6. Ayudar en diferentes tareas relacionadas con la comunicación trabajando mano a mano con contratistas externos (desarrollador web, diseñador gráfico…) para mejorar el compromiso de las audiencias externas.
  7. Apoyo en la elaboración de informes de campañas y comunicaciones (Google Analytics, métricas de redes sociales, informes de marketing por correo electrónico).
  8. Como parte del Equipo de Comunicación de MarAlliance, apoyar al Coordinador de Comunicación y Marketing en cualquier otro proyecto de comunicación, coherente con las habilidades y experiencia del titular del puesto, en circunstancias no rutinarias.

Experiencia, conocimientos y aptitudes requeridos:

  1. Licenciatura en comunicación, periodismo, marketing o cualquier disciplina relacionada.
  2. Experiencia en comunicación digital o marketing.
  3. Pasión e interés por la naturaleza, la vida marina y la conservación.
  4. Capacidad demostrada para redactar y presentar comunicaciones creativas.
  5. Presencia y conocimientos de medios sociales y digitales.
  6. Capacidad para realizar múltiples tareas y detectar buenas historias.
  7. Capacidad para trabajar a distancia y cumplir los plazos establecidos.
  8. Conocimientos de diseño gráfico deseables, pero no necesarios.
  9. Conocimientos de edición de vídeo deseables pero no necesarios. 

Salario y prestaciones:

Estipendio durante 6 meses.

Idiomas:

Español, con fluidez en inglés

Localización:

Este contrato será a distancia dentro de las zonas horarias de América, flexible, a tiempo completo y desde casa con hasta un 10% de viajes ocasionales locales e internacionales.

Cómo presentar la candidatura:

Por favor, envíe su currículum, portfolio si lo tiene, y carta de presentación a info@maralliance.org con “MAR-CA_Apellido” en el asunto antes del 21 de febrero, 2024. No se admiten llamadas.

Communications Assistant (Internship)

MarAlliance is an international non-profit registered in the US, Belize, Panama and Cabo Verde that aims to explore, enable and inspire positive changes for threatened marine wildlife – notably sharks and rays – their critical habitats and dependent human communities. Our remit is broad and ambitious, and we work in three languages and across seven countries encompassed by three regions. In the face of declines in many populations of marine megafauna, these species need a strong, effective, and science-based voice to represent them to help dependent partners shape management and conservation strategies and action to reverse declines.

Position summary:

We are seeking for a proactive, digitally savvy Paid Intern (6 month) Communications Assistant with excellent writing and copy editing skills, who will support the creation of high-quality written content and multichannel assets to broadcast the work MarAlliance does through its online (website, social media, newsletter, among others) and offline platforms, and engage with our external audiences to contribute to our overall communications and marketing goals. The Communications Assistant will directly report consistently to the Communications and Marketing Coordinator, and work closely with the rest of the team to support them on the communications elements of their work.

Duties and responsibilities will include but are not limited to:

  1. Provide creative, editorial, and operational project support. 
  2. Support organizing, labeling and tagging the photo archive and video archive management.
  3. Community Management: Actively manage social media channels, as well as identify new trends and collaboration opportunities. Generate reels and visuals.
  4. Support with writing blog articles (SEO) and newsletter content. 
  5. Help build and develop materials, toolkits, and actions for (online and offline) campaigns.
  6. Assist in different communications-related tasks working hand in hand with external contractors (web developer, graphic designer…) to improve the engagement of external audiences.
  7. Support in campaign and communications reporting (Google Analytics, social media metrics, email marketing reports)
  8. As part of the MarAlliance Communications Team, support the Communications and Marketing Coordinator with any other communications projects, consistent with the skills and expertise of the post holder, in non-routine circumstances.

Experience, Knowledge, and Skills Required:

  1. Bachelor’s degree in communications, journalism, marketing or any related discipline.
  2. Experience working in digital communications and or marketing.
  3. Passion and interest for nature, marine life and conservation.
  4. Proven ability to write and deliver creative communications.
  5. Social Media and digital presence and knowledge.
  6. Ability to multitask and spot good stories.
  7. Capable of working remotely and meeting established deadlines.
  8. Graphic design skills are desirable but not required.
  9. Video editing skills are desirable but not required.

Salary and benefits:

Stipend for 6 month.

Language:

Spanish, with fluent English

Location:

This contract will be remote within the Americas time zones, flexible, full-time and home-based with up to 10% occasional local and international travel.

How to apply:

Please send your resume, portfolio if you have one, and cover letter to info@maralliance.org with “MAR-CA_Last name” in the subject line by 21st of February, 2024. No calls please.