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Policy advisor_ Marlies Westerhof_ NaturalScience.Careers

Policy advisor: If you know how the political system works, you can make a difference.

An interview with Marlies Westerhof, Policy Officer Nature and Landscape at a municipality in the Netherlands.

NSC: Marlies, you studied ecology at the University of Groningen and today you are a ‘Policy Officer…’ it sounds very political. Are you a politician?

MW: I am not a politician, but I do advise politicians. I am not attached to any political party, but the outcomes and content of my work are greatly dependent on the current political climate in the EU, the Netherlands and in the municipality. Hence, the election results decide whom I am advising, which political party this person represents, and what the current rules and policies this person needs to bear in mind.

NSC: What kind of policy advice do you give?

MW: I am advising our local councilwomen and councilmen (these people have been running for office and have won the elections) on agriculture, ecology, natural and landscape topics. This board of decision makers is coming with an assignment or a mission and I advise them on the implementations of it. Moreover, in the Netherlands citizens have ‘a voice.’ That means that every citizen has the right to propose and to object to plans. I consider all these assignments, proposals and objections and firstly advice on ‘if’ we should do something with it and if the board decides ‘we should do something with it’ then I advise them on ‘how’ to do it. For example, what to take into consideration, opinions of different people and organisations, and what science says about the topic at hand.…

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Seeing ecology in the legal framework, that is what it is all about.

An interview with Dagmar Heidinga about working in an ecological consulting firm.

What would best describe you as a professional?

I am a ‘Law and Natural Protection Specialist Flora and Fauna.’

Right. Sounds fancy. What does it mean? 

I am an ecologist by training and now work for an ecological consulting firm. We are advising companies, governments, managers of protected areas, and private persons about the legal frameworks of interventions and write action plans for natural protection.

As soon as anyone in the Netherlands wants to do any kind of activity that could potentially damage protected species, they need to get advice from an independent agency in order to get permission to pursue the activity. 

Can you give an example?

In the Netherlands bats, sparrows and swifts are protected species in residential areas by the Nature Protection Act. If anyone wants to get permission to renovate a house or demolish an old barn, they need to get permission from the government to do so. My field ecologist colleagues are coming to the area for a ‘quick scan’ to investigate if any of the protected species is nesting in the area. If the ‘quick scan’ is positive, meaning we suspect one of the protected species is in the area, we advise our client to do further research before the renovation or demolition takes place, because otherwise he or she could breach the law. The next step will be to conduct in-depth research during the time of the year that specific species is active; the breeding season.…

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Conference Project – Call for collaboration

In 2017, NaturalScience.Careers launched its first research project — the conference study project. We set out to remodel the standard science conference event by adding an interactive format and herewith extending opportunities conferences hold for scientists by providing them with improved networking experiences. With the introduction of small round-table discussion groups we aim to make conferences more inclusive events for everybody.

 

For over a year now our study, coordinated by Peter Kronenberg, has become a valuable platform for supporting and connecting with multiple groups from academia and industry, all interested in creating better conference events.

Many of these collaborations began when conference organisers contacted us about how they could for example de-bias the selection processes for their speaker selection processes or wanted to create particularly family-friendly environments. We collaborated to develop inclusive conference environments and sensitise each other to the various needs of conference participants and organisers. The feedback from participants and conference organising teams created indispensable networks which enabled us to refine our perspectives on the study project’s initial ideas and the set-up of our research approach.

 

We were glad to be able to share preliminary results at two meetings: the GenderingMINTdigital collaborative research project in Freiburg and the I, Scientist 2018 conference. These were wonderful opportunities for getting feedback from people invested in current discussions on science career planning, gender and networking.

 

Naturally, we couldn’t find the “one-size-fits-all” answer to all the challenges science conference organisers face. Challenges remain diverse and often very specific to the conference context, size and research field.…

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Jobs in industry: quality management, regulatory affairs & health and safety

Sorry, this entry is only available in German. For the sake of viewer convenience, the content is shown below in the alternative language. You may click the link to switch the active language.

Documentation and regulation

The term kafkaesque describes situations in which a helpless subject has to navigate an endless bureaucratic machinery, without ever getting to a meaningful outcome. What would the writer say to the group of jobs in this section? Would he be shocked that despite all the computers in use nowadays, we´re still printing out mountains of paper, file them, watch them get dusty and finally bin them? That we multiply the fire load in the company building with yet another mountain of documents, Health and safety, all signed in triplicates by every Tom, Dick and Harry? Or would he be amazed that all the complex procedures, which are happening in today´s enterprises, are documented and regulated in such a pragmatic and focused manner? Let´s first of all take a closer look at the individual groups of jobs.

As depicted in the SOP (Standard operating procedure) “17_04_14_Description of occupational groups”, we´ll first deal with the quality manager (QM). Once you have read this section, it officially counts as training of this SOP. Please sign this certificate, so that I can enter this training procedure into our overview matrix.

Do we exaggerate, even make fun, or is this the reality in a typical industrial context?

Let´s do a fact check. In order to get certifications (e. g.…

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