EAF-Nansen Programme

Women scientists aboard the Nansen: Meet Hinde Abdelouahab

Scientist Hinde Abdelouahab from Morocco is joining the international team of scientists on their current Northwest African journey.

The #EAFNansen pogramme has been a collaboration between Norway and FAO in operation since 1974, conducting marine research in some of the least observed waters on the planet.

This project trains marine scientists and researchers, many from developing countries, on board the world’s most advanced marine research vessel. And a gender policy built into the EAF-Nansen programme means that many of the scientists and researchers aboard are women.

Around the world, policy makers and educators often lament the fact that too few women enter the sciences.

Since we’re lucky enough to have so many examples of talented and enthusiastic women scientists on board the Nansen, we like to catch up with them to learn about their career paths, and advice they may have for young girls dreaming of a career in marine biology or oceanography.

Today we are chatting with Hinde Abdelouahab of Morocco, who is taking time from her busy schedule of shifts on board to tell us about herself and her impressions of working aboard the Nansen.

Hinde at work in one of the Nansen’s laboratories. This new Nansen, with its advanced technology, is a dream come true for scientists.
Hinde with her team classifying fish after a trawl.

Where you from and what is your current position?

My name is Hinde Abdelouahab and I am from Morocco. I’m a PhD student at the University of Hassan II, Faculty of Science Ain Chock in Casablanca, and doing my marine research at the National Marine Research Institute of Casablanca in Morocco.

Where did you complete your studies, and what are your areas of expertise?

I have been studying at the Faculty of Science Ain Chock in Casablanca, where I have received my Master degree in Biological Oceanography, and now I am preparing my PhD thesis. My studies are on assemblages of fish eggs and larvae.

How did you first decide to study science? Did you have important teachers or mentors who encouraged you in your choice?

In the first years, after receiving my bachelor degree, I never thought about studying Biological Oceanography. However, after my third year at the University, I decided to change my career from biochemistry to become a marine scientist.

My mother has always encouraged me to follow my heart and study what I like the most, and what I loved at a very early age was watching the “Jacques-Yves Cousteau” documentaries.

This is the background for my interests in marine biology. I want to explore what the big ocean hides.

How do you feel your research experience aboard the Nansen will affect your career or studies? What are you learning that is most useful to you?

It is my first time to be on board R/V Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, but it is my second time to be on a survey on board a research vessel. However, this survey is offering me the opportunity to work with different scientists coming from all over the world. It has also helped me learn more about the distributions and locations of the different fish species in the West-African waters by observing the fish eggs and larvae as well as the adult fish in the trawl catches.  I have also gained new skills and invaluable experiences and practiced my English writing and speaking.

What do you find most difficult or challenging about this type of experience?

The most difficult and challenging in this type of experience is to be away from home for a long period.

What advice would you offer to a young girl who dreams of studying marine biology, fisheries, or other areas of ocean research?

To young girls who would like to follow a similar path I would say: loving what you are doing is the first step to become a marine scientist. It is a hard work which needs a lot of patience and determination. The reward is that the marine ecosystem is a huge world where you always discover new things.

Thank you! Shukran!, Hinde, for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing with our readers your path to a career in marine research.

If you have questions for Hinde or other scientists aboard this Northwest Africa survey, please include them in the comment box below. Until next time!

Hinde at work in the labs. The scientists work in teams covering three eight-hour shifts during each 24-hour period, meaning a hectic life during these survey trips.

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