Celebrating International Day for Women & Girls in Science

Ada Sokach (l) consults with communities. Photo:Supplied

On this ‘International day of Women and Girls in Science’, we take this opportunity to meet one of Vanuatu Fisheries Department’s up and coming female fisheries officers, Ada Sokach. Ada works as a community-based fisheries officer on an Australian government funded project on improving and spreading sustainable management of Vanuatu’s coastal resources.

What is it you do as a researcher?

In a few simple words: ‘I research how to enable communities to improve their fisheries management’. For this, I must travel to communities throughout Vanuatu and gather information on community’s needs and issues around fisheries. Together with a team of colleagues and the communities we devise ways to address those needs. In this way we hope to build capacity, think of alternative livelihood activities, and develop ways to strengthen people’s own organizations.

What opportunities made it possible for you to become a researcher?

I remember joining the Reef Check program in high school where we did multiple reef surveys. When I was old enough, I got Scuba certified and joined a local dive team to remove Crown-of-Thorns in North Efate. Later on, during my uni days, I always sought out opportunities to volunteer. One such opportunity saw me involved in coral health research, where we researched growth tumours on corals.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years?

Working somewhere in the region with a Master’s degree under my belt, and possibly starting a PhD. I want to continue helping grass-root communities and contributing to scientific knowledge in sustainable management. I hope one day to become a specialist in coastal habitat restoration and do research on coral diseases.

What advice would you have for young girls in high school interested in a career in science?

A career in science is not easy, especially in a country like Vanuatu where there are limited opportunities. But do not let that discourage you. Keep your grades up and manage your time wisely. Dream big and pursue it with steadfast determination. Surround yourself with good and caring people that can support and help you reach your goals. Start getting to know people in the field you are interested in now. Be curious at all times, crave knowledge and keep learning. Above all, pray and ask our Heavenly Father for guidance, knowledge and wisdom; thanking Him for each always.

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