What is your qualifying background?
I always had an interest in biology – my teenage hero was Konrad Lorenz – so I chose Zoology as my first degree. I briefly considered ecology as a special subject, but eventually did a Masters in Conservation, which I really enjoyed as a broad introduction to a wide range of policy and management issues. I discovered coasts and oceans by accident really, when I was offered a job to help support Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the UK – a really hot topic back in the 1990s!
During this time I also met Andreas Kannen, one of my colleagues here – little did I know I would end up working with him at HZG. Managing ecosystems really means dealing with people and spaces, so when the ICZM job came to an end I chose to do a PhD in Geography in Germany. By that time, marine spatial planning had replaced ICZM as the focal issue and renewable energies were taking off, so ever since I have been interested in how we can balance different interests in the ocean and what makes people and policy favour different management options.
How would you describe your working daily routine?
That’s a hard question – there really is no routine as such. I only work at HZG part time and do a lot of travelling – mostly for project meetings or field work in our ongoing projects but also privately as my husband lives abroad. I’m writing this in times of the coronavirus restrictions, so my routine at the moment is home office: cup of tea while reading emails, a never-ending stream of Zoom meetings, lunch, more tea, more emails, if I’m lucky a bit of reading or writing. As it is we are also doing a lot of alternative planning – some projects that should have started now cannot begin because of travel restrictions, and field work that should have been taking place will have to be shifted to the autumn.
What has been your biggest success so far?
I would have to say my PhD as I really struggled with it, so getting it done felt extremely good. In real life, my biggest success is to have a career at all as I’ve mostly been dependent on external project funding. This would never have worked without the support of my colleagues here and being part of the team „Human Dimensions of Coastal Areas“. A bit of luck was also involved as the right projects have usually come along at the right time. I also think that 30 years of marriage is a big success!
Do you have a big goal?
Career-wise, I don’t have any great ambitions as I’m happy with where I am – simply to keep going would be nice, and to work in a few more interesting projects. Getting out a few more worthwhile papers – writing is slow work for me but I do enjoy it. A more important goal is to travel less (including to and from work) and spend more time at home – you never know, home office options might be extended following the coronavirus experience! I have a large garden, chickens, cats and a husband that would all benefit from more attention.
Do you have any personal distinctive mark?
Some people say it’s my hair! There’s lots of it for sure… Another is that I occasionally freelance as a conference interpreter for German and English. It keeps me mentally agile and is great training for presenting, as I’ve had my share of challenging speakers: badly prepared, no real message, reading at great speed from written scripts, quoting long poems, cracking insider jokes. So, to make interpreters and audiences happy: No script, a simple ppt (if at all), a well-delivered cohesive argument delivered with confidence. A rare art!