Do your students enjoy natural sciences classes? Are they fascinated by the ocean and life under the sea? Can they spend hours watching documentaries about sea life? Do they dream to work protecting sea animals and vegetation? They might be on the right path to becoming marine knowledge brokers. Marine knowledge brokers are people passionate about the sea and oceans, who work both with marine researchers and stakeholders who advocate for the protection of sea life. This profile requires good communication skills, great adaptability and resilience, and commitment. Are you curious to know more? Then meet Kate Larkin, a marine knowledge broker.
Meet the professional
Kate Larking is Deputy Head at EMODnet (The European Marine Observation and Data Network), a network of organisations that work together to observe the sea, process the data according to international standards and make that information freely available as interoperable data layers and data products. She originally studied Natural Sciences (Majors in Biology and Geology) at the University of Birmingham, UK. Then, Kate chose to specialise in marine sciences and moved to the University of Southampton, School of Ocean and Earth Sciences where she completed a PhD in deep-sea biogeochemistry. Her career to date has included marine scientific research, field expeditions (research cruises), scientific project management, science communication, knowledge transfer and science-policy-industry-society interfaces.
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To be a Marine Knowledge Broker, “communication with colleagues and externally is crucial as life – including professional life – is all about relationships. I talk to a wide diversity of people from the marine and maritime sectors that may be scientific researchers, industry, or European policymakers.”
Adaptability: “Our day can change in an instant with an urgent unexpected activity, and we have to also look for new funding and write new proposals which take time, energy and does not always result in funding being awarded.”
“It is for me a fundamental skill that has driven me from the start of my research career and keeps me getting up in the morning to do my job. I like to read the wider news or science communication and to attend EU and international meetings when possible to see the bigger picture, and this makes my job count as it is contributing to something bigger, resulting in more motivation and inspiration to continue.”
Being a Marine Knowledge Broker requires presentation skills so that “key messages can be communicated, and taken up, by the people you want to influence. I have learned by doing hundreds of presentations and by short courses on presentation and meeting facilitation.”
“It’s a very important skill since every person is different this takes time and dedication to develop the skills for effective communication, delegation and a collaborative working environment.”
Marine Knowledge Brokers are committed to their beliefs. “The knowledge that we are doing a job that contributes to the wider society in terms of knowledge and facts about our planet that people can use for making our society, business and politics greener and more sustainable makes our work worth it."
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Advice to take away
My advice to students is if you want a job in STEM then choose a topic or subject that really interests you within the wider STEM subjects – you don’t have to specialise too early but explore everything you can, and if you find things that fascinate you, you are on a good track! Then build up expertise in a certain area. Talk to professors, link with online events and networks in your subject area and don’t be afraid to ask if people offer internships. Explore options for a further study like Masters. With this, you can develop solid expertise.
CC BY 4.0: all the materials and content presented on this STEM Job profile have been provided by STE(A)M IT, a project funded by the European Union’s ERASMUS+ programme project STE(A)M IT (Grant agreement 612845-EPP-1-2019-1- BE-EPPKA3-PI-FORWARD), coordinated by European Schoolnet (EUN).