Janne Haugen is a fisheries ecologist and PhD Candidate at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where her work focuses on management, conservation, and bycatch of sharks. She has a Master of Science in Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology from University of Aberdeen, where she investigated sexual segregation in spiny dogfish in the Northeast U.S. spiny dogfish fishery. Janne also has Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from the University of South-Eastern Norway. She is passionate about advancing elasmobranch (shark, skates, and rays) research, increasing the public’s knowledge about elasmobranch interaction with fisheries, and sustainable elasmobranch fisheries.
Briefly describe your current work and your research.
My research focuses on the management, conservation and bycatch of porbeagle sharks. Porbeagles have been heavily fished in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, and both the eastern and western Atlantic populations are depleted. We no longer have large directed fisheries for porbeagle, but they are still caught as bycatch in other fisheries such as the Northeast. U.S. trawl and gillnet fisheries. I’m currently estimating the extent of this bycatch and the amount of porbeagle discarded from these fisheries. This will give us a much better idea of total fishing mortality for porbeagle, which is a crucial part needed for stock assessment and management of the northwest Atlantic population. Furthermore, by identifying spatial and temporal bycatch hotspots for porbeagle, we can reduce the porbeagle bycatch, which can help the population recover quicker.
What do you love the most about your job?
I really enjoy seeing my results after hours of statistics and coding, and knowing that I’m the first person in the world to know exactly this little piece of information.
How difficult was it to get where you are today?
I was interested in sharks from a young age. But, I didn’t know it could turn into a serious career until later as I didn’t see or hear about anyone else doing this in my part of the world. Coming from Norway, there wasn’t a whole lot of shark research opportunities around. I entered into an environmental science program for my undergrad, but felt like I was missing out on aspects covering statistics and fieldwork, and I knew I had to do something about it if I was ever going to study sharks. A few weeks before my final semester of my Bachelor’s I applied to study abroad at Prescott College, AZ. I was very excited that I was accepted and spent a semester at the school’s field station in Kino Bay, Sonora Mexico getting exactly what I needed; Statistics and fieldwork. I got to help out on some of the field station’s ongoing research projects on whale and bird photo- identification and was introduced to a whole new world of fisheries operations and management in Mexico. This definitely put me on the path to pursue fisheries research with a focus on sharks for my graduate degrees. (I have also since met Norwegian shark scientists. There’s not many of us but, we’re here!)
What was the biggest obstacle in your way before your career reached where it is today? How did you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle has been daring to reach out to people. Especially through cold emailing or introducing myself to a scientist and talking to them at a conference. I think it’s because I get insecure about my English at times, as I’m not a native English speaker. The funny thing is, the times I have reached out, people have been really nice and it has led to some great collaborations, so I’m super thankful that I did!
What are you looking forward to the most in the future of marine science?
I’m looking forward to finishing my PhD and putting everything I’ve learned through 8+ years of higher education to use in a real job! Technology is advancing so fast and I think incorporating new technology (apps etc.) can enhance data collection and allow us to collect and analyse data that is currently too time-consuming or expensive to do.
How do you think we can get more women involved within marine science?
The whole scientific community needs to be more inclusive, approachable, and open minded to students and young women interested in the field. Also, scholarships for women to attend workshops and conferences are a must for college students to network, find a graduate program or job, and therefore stay in this field.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring female marine scientists?
Get in touch with people that do what you want to do. Don’t limit it to the people with your dream job, but reach out to scientists at all levels as a network of people at different career stages can result in amazing opportunities.
In one sentence, why do you think a career within marine science is a great career option?
The ocean is the future and while technology can replace many jobs, there’s always going to be a need for people exploring the oceans and creating new knowledge!
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I would like to give a massive thank you to Janne Haugen for participating in this interview. I cannot wait to share more of your stories and I hope that you find inspiration in learning of other journeys within marine science.
Are you a woman working within marine science? Would you like to share your story and inspire the next generation? Please get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved with the Leading Women in Marine Science Interview Series.
Disclaimer: All responses to the interview questions and the biography belong to Janne Haugen. All photographs have been used with the permission of Janne Haugen.