Introduction of our Scientific Director
Since May, Gwenaele Coat has joined The SeaCleaners team as Scientific Director. We interviewed her to learn more about her career and her projects within the association.
Studies and background
Gwenaele has a degree in biological oceanography specialized in the study of seaweeds. In 1998, she described a new species of seaweed proliferating in Brittany, the “Ulva Armoricaine”. Afterwards, she studied scientific communication in Strasbourg, which confirmed her interest in science, its development and the treatment of its problems. Her first professional steps were taken at the CNRS before she flew to the United States where she decided to devote herself to her passion: the environment. This aspect will illustrate the rest of her career, and will lead her to work within environmental organizations such as the Society for Conservation Biology, The American Association for the Advancement of Science or the CPFD Globals. In 2020, the need to return to her roots pushed Gwenaele to return to France where she joined The SeaCleaners upon her arrival.
Within The SeaCleaners
At the heart of the scientific debates of the association, Gwenaele is a real reference in relation with the different poles and actors of The SeaCleaners. Her objective is to compare and understand which scientific campaigns are the most effective in setting up the protocols for the association’s scientific missions, such as the one that will be operated by the Mobula 8 in Indonesia at the end of 2021. Research, analysis and knowledge sharing are also at the heart of its mission to broaden the public’s knowledge of plastic pollution and ecosystems with the help of specialized scientists (presence, dangerousness, endangered species, etc.).
Raising awareness and providing information
Beyond scientific research, communication is essential. Raising awareness and informing the general public and communities around the world about the dangers of plastic pollution is also part of The SeaCleaners’ mission. This is a primary objective, a task that Gwenael assiduously carries out as Scientific Director. This work of democratization and popularization of scientific knowledge is necessary to raise popular and political awareness. By announcing the progress and the dangers of plastic pollution through different actions, the association allows everyone to become familiar with the subject and offers the possibility to rethink their habits.
“Scientific communication and exemplary action are essential vectors for raising awareness, trying to reduce plastic consumption and getting politicians to do more. In long-term battles, we need to make people aware and to highlight intermediate victories to raise awareness. Alongside the actors in the field, there is therefore a place for researchers. The roles are complementary in order to move the lines and, at The SeaCleaners, I find these two dimensions”, explains Gwenaele.
“With the Manta and the Mobula, The SeaCleaners will be able to demonstrate the problem of plastic pollution with powerful images and raise awareness.”
Nowadays, it is impossible to think about plastic pollution without looking at the international level, because despite the borders that separate us, the entire planet is affected by this phenomenon. As an observer member of the European Union’s Environment Agency, The SeaCleaners is part of an international dynamic of solidarity on a daily basis. Today, as a partner of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the NGO actively participates in solutions for change to achieve the 10-year sustainable development goals. These initiatives allow the establishment of scientific collaborations, synonymous with increased knowledge. It is the international awareness that will allow to offer targeted answers and will authorize the development of means to mitigate the degradation of the ocean ecosystem.
Every day, the expert members of The SeaCleaners’ International Scientific Advisory Board try to collect data to think of innovative ways to fight plastic pollution. In her new position, Gwenaele will be responsible for leading this network in the fight against plastic pollution.
It is the mixing of ideas, multidisciplinarity and the co-construction of solutions that led to the creation of the Manta and the Mobula, pollution control boats designed by The SeaCleaners, which act to preserve biodiversity and ecosystems. All of these approaches have a specific goal: to increase the capacity of oceanic studies to find sustainable solutions to protect our environment in an international approach.
“The International Scientific Council of the association is multidisciplinary and accompanies us throughout our missions and our progress. It is there to validate our ideas, to define our missions of characterization, localization and quantification of plastic waste and to make us progress on a daily basis. Thanks to this council, we will be able to add our touch to the international knowledge”, concludes our new scientific director.
Welcome to the team, Gwen!