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Biological Sciences: Freshwater & Marine Biology (track)

Mascha Dedert

Current position: Delta Waters Programme Manager 
Employer: Zeeuwse Milieufederatie
Master’s programme and specialisation: Biology –  Limnology and Oceanography

Protecting the Delta Waters

'I work at a regional environmental NGO as Delta Waters Programme Manager. That’s quite a specific topic that concerns the Southwest Delta. You have different waters that flow into the sea. All those waters together form the Delta Waters. So, I’m still very much busy with marine ecology, but from an NGO perspective. The job involves conservation, lobbying the government and giving government agencies our view on projects they’re doing, promoting a sustainable lifestyle, creating awareness among people that those specific waters are very valuable to nature. We sometimes collaborate with research institutes, so actually writing research proposals in order to initiate projects that focus on promoting the ecology in these waters.' 

Creating an energy island

'Last year, we were part of a consortium that took part in a competition focused on how to design the landscape in terms of the energy transition. We came up with the idea of an ‘energy island’ and it won second place. The idea was to create an island in front of the coast, so of course that’s a form of prevention against sea level rise, but it also included energy storage. At present, you have all the wind parks at sea, so you need to do something with all the energy that is generated, and we combined that with a nature development for specific birds and other species that are under threat in this region. We also looked at recreational opportunities, as well as agriculture, because that’s also a major economic driver in this region. We have actually secured funding for this now to assess the feasibility, so it could be realized. This project could be a first step in combating sea level rise, although of course such a small island is not going to block sea level rise, but you could at least take the energy out of the waves so the impact on the shore is not so great.'

The importance of implementing knowledge

'Communication in my current job is very important. You need to deal with many different kinds of people and you need to be able to deal with opposition. I really focused on the science during the Master’s programme, but what I learned later on was the importance of programme management and a more integral approach, as well as the social aspect, such as networking. That’s important for students to keep in mind because it’s something that employers are looking for nowadays. It’s very important for students these days to learn how to implement all that knowledge. You should focus on what you can do with the knowledge that you gained during your studies.'