Marine Science Career Development

In conjunction with ATMEC we helped fund a research and conservation internship for a female Thai National. During the application process we targeted individuals who have a passion for marine science and conservation. The first scholarshipee was fully funded at the Aow Thai Marine Ecology center to grow and develop her skills and be given a support network to help them through their career planning. The same plan will be in place for future scholarship recipients with ATMEC.

They will also be trained as Conservation Diver instructors, giving them greater employment possibilities and to inspire similar conservation programs in Thailand.

Meet our first scholarship recipient for the 2022/23 Aow Thai Marine Ecology Center season! Taweeka Leamlertwong developed her skills in the fields of marine science and conservation for 5 months with ATMEC. She will be supported with future career development opportunities as much as she needs to facilitate the goal of increased representation of women in STEM fields. Check out her interview below!

Q. Hey Mine! How is your internship going at ATMEC so far?

A. It’s fun and amazing to learn all about the marine life and to have made new friends.

Q. Could you explain your role at ATMEC, and describe your average day?

A. This semester I am having a lot of lectures and learning all about the project protocols, like for PPP which is a project to monitor beach plastic that we do every week. I also talk a lot with the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources and Pi Od (the boat captain) for the Program because I can speak Thai to them and translate. I am also learning about and helping with the book keeping.

My average day involves meeting with the team at 8.30 to talk about the day, if we are diving or doing land work and research. We dive 3-4 days every week, and have one day for land work, like concreting (making artificial reefs) and computer work. We also have one day off per week. Also once a week we go to the mainland to resupply everything we need for the week.

Q. Could you describe what interested you in this scholarship in the first place? Or, why are you interested in marine science?

A. What first interested me was the opportunity to learn about marine science. Here in Thailand, if you don’t have a background in science it is very hard to get into the field. I really want to understand and learn more about the marine life, and I want to be a part of the conservation here in Thailand.

Q. What has been your favourite activity during your internship so far?

A.  I was about to say I really liked the Ecological Monitoring Program, but today we deployed artificial reef substrates to study coral recruitment, which was really fun. But I also like learning about coral taxonomy (for now….).

Q. Could you explain why you think women in Thailand are less likely to become SCUBA divers, scientists, or work in decision making positions than men?

A. More women in Thailand are starting to SCUBA dive now, recreation diving is becoming more available. In the past I think women were more likely to fear it, because it is an extreme kind of sport, but now they are seeing more influential women doing it, and now believe that they can do it too.

When I think about far away jobs, like living on islands for research or travelling with the government, I think the Thai culture of what women are used to doing matters. Culturally, in traditional Asian families, they don’t want daughters to go too far from the family. For example, my mother and father used to tell me ‘You’re a girl, it’s not safe for you to go far away’, they care but they are scared for me. Also, they expect that the children will have very stable work when they grow up, and often that can be like working in a big city or organisation, it is consider safer because those types of work might make more money.

If I have a son or a daughter, I want them to be able to pursue anything that they want to, have that freedom, and make their decisions and learn from their experience.

The aim of this program is to encourage greater representation of women in STEM fields and marine conservation as well as supporting and growing the pool of high-quality women exploring careers in marine science and conservation in Thailand. Our Daughters will carry out in-depth research projects on coral biodiversity, recruitment and restoration.

After completing the internships, alongside the team at ATMEC, we will assist our Daughters to find employment and/or pursue further academic study, so they have a complete support network to help them achieve that scientific goals.

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