Author Archive | NaturalScienceCareers

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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Konferenzprojekt- Suche nach Kooperationen

2017 startete NaturalScience.Careers sein Forschungsprojekt zu Konferenzen. Wir wollten herausfinden, wie sich herkömmliche Konferenzen verändern, wenn wir ein interaktives Format hinzufügen und dadurch die Möglichkeiten zum Netzwerken erweitern. Wir führten kleine Round Table Diskussionen ein, damit alle Teilnehmenden mehr aus der Konferenz herausholen können.

Die Studie, koordiniert von Peter Kronenberg, wurde zu einer wertvollen Plattform zur Unterstützung und Verknüpfung mit verschiedenen Gruppen aus Hochschule und Industrie, die daran interessiert sind, ihre Konferenzen zu verbessern.

Viele dieser Kooperationen begannen damit, dass wir von den KonferenzorganisatorInnen kontaktiert wurden, um sich darüber auszutauschen, wir etwa die SprecherInnenauswahl vorurteilsfrei organisiert werden kann oder wie ein besonders familienfreundliches Umfeld gestaltet werden kann. Wir arbeiteten daran, uns gegenseitig über die verschiedenen Bedürfnisse der Teilnehmenden auszutauschen. Durch das Feedback konnten wir unsere Ideen zu der Durchführung unserer Studie verfeinern.

Wir konnten unsere vorläufigen Ergebnisse auf zwei Konferenzen vorstellen: das GenderingMINTdigital Forschungsprojekt in Freiburg und die I, Scientist 2018 Konferenz. Auf diesem Wege konnten wir uns mit ExpertInnen aus den Gebieten Karriereentwicklung, Gender und Netzwerken austauschen.

Selbstverständlich konnten wir keine Komplettlösung für alle Herausforderungen finden, denen sich Konferenz-OrganisatorInnen stellen müssen. Je nach dem spezifischen Kontext der Konferenz, der Größe oder dem fachlichen Hintergrund fallen diese jeweils anders aus. Dennoch erhielten die Round Tables positives Feedback, insbesondere von jüngeren Teilnehmenden. Wir werden weiterhin daran arbeiten, wie wir das Netzwerk-Erlebnis insbesondere der weiblichen Teilnehmerinnen verbessern können.

Ein Highlight des nächsten Jahres wird die Folgekonferenz der internationalen Konferenz sein, mit der wir bereits 2018 kooperieren konnten. Wir arbeiten eng mit dem Organisationsteam zusammen und konnten mehrere Round Table Diskussionen veranstalten (siehe auch unseren Bericht dazu).…

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graduating students

Berufe in der Industrie: Qualitäts Management, Arbeitsschutzes, Regulatory Affairs

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. GxP or ISO), certain guidelines have to be followed. These primarily deal with whether or not the documentation and processes are traceable and well-structured. These are pretty formal, bureaucratic guidelines. However, when taking a closer look, one realises that they are formulated in a rather general sense.…

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