WMU Welcomes R/V Oceanograf and Contributes to Gender Research at Sea

From 1-2 July, the World Maritime University (WMU) had the pleasure of welcoming visitors from the University of Gdańsk's ship R/V Oceanograf on its return from an Arctic expedition. The visit also provided the opportunity to meet with members of the SEA-EU Alliance of which WMU is an Associated University Partner.

At WMU on 1 July, Dr. Lola Perea Barbera, Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Faculty of Maritime Studies and the Naval Engineering School at the University of Cádiz, presented the Alliance's work on creating joint degrees for the collaborating universities. Dr. Fidel Echevarría, SEA-EU General Coordinator, also made a presentation regarding SEA-EU with an emphasis on the opportunities available for WMU. 

At the welcome ceremony on 2 July for the SEA-EU BaltArctic Research Cruise, Mr. Roko Kursar, Deputy Mayor of the City of Malmö, delivered opening remarks. Welcome remarks on behalf of WMU were delivered by Professor Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs, Vice-President (Academic Affairs). Tours of the R/V Oceanograf followed for guests invited to the official welcome ceremony, and WMU students had the opportunity to visit the vessel. The day’s events concluded with the signing of the Global Gateway Declaration by Dr. Fidel Echevarría, SEA-EU General Coordinator, and Professor Maximo Q. Mejia, Jr., President of WMU.

University of Gdańsk Rector, Professor Piotr Stepnowski, describes the Oceanograf as “a symbol of European cooperation and unity.” This was the second joint research voyage of the vessel. The scope of research on this particular expedition involved tracing water masses flowing from the Baltic Sea to the Arctic Ocean and tracking chemical substances (e.g. microplastics, heavy metals) and living organisms present in them. During the expedition, research and observations were carried out and the vessel visited the partner universities of the SEA-EU alliance of coastal universities, to which the University of Gdańsk also belongs, in the ports of Kiel (Germany), Bodø (Norway), and Malmö (Sweden). Scientists from these associated universities welcomed the research unit of the University of Gdańsk and also boarded the R/V Oceanograf to support core research works and carry out their own scientific projects. 

Dr Ellen Johannesen, who recently completed her PhD at WMU, joined the cruise for a period of one week to further her gender equality at sea research and provided a presentation during the visit entitled “BaltArctic Cruise - Investigation of the gendered experiences of individuals working and living at sea”. While on the Oceanograf, Dr Johannesen carried out an ethnographic study focused on understanding the culture and practice of the researchers on ship. “We can’t change our relationship with the ocean if we don’t address some of the systemic biases that exist in our discipline. A lot of research shows that the more diversity you have in your scientific team, the more innovation you’re going to have. I think that’s something we should strive for in marine science, because we need to have many perspectives represented to reflect the diversity of the society we live in”, said Dr Johannesen.

Dr Johanessen’s PhD dissertation is entitled "Gender Inequality in the Practice of International Marine Science. Case Study on the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea”. It looks at the institutional aspects of gender inequality, what leads to gender equality, and how marine science institutions can change to make them more equal. Dr Johanessen's studies were conducted within the WMU Empowering Women for the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development Programme. With support from Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the purpose of the Empowering Women research programme is to advance an alternative, inclusive model for the sustainable governance of ocean spaces and maritime activities that duly takes into account the need to ensure effective gender equality and the empowerment of women at all levels in order to ensure the sustainable management of the global ocean.

Additional information about Dr Johanessen’s Oceanograf experience and research can be found in the following articles: 



(Swedish only)

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