11 February is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Over the next two weeks we are highlighting some of the inspiring women scientists working in the Pacific Community.
Meet Carrol Chang – SPC GIS & RS Project Assistant
Describe your work?
I am a GIS & RS project assistant providing support to projects within GEM and across divisions. As a support service, we utilise GIS and RS tools to derive valuable information with relation to space that would be helpful for decision-making. My work involves field data collection using location-based tools, spatial data processing and analysis, as well as conducting specified trainings for stakeholders using GIS & RS.
Dependent on the project, my work could therefore be a simple creation of maps for reporting, to a complete field data collection and analysis on land use change using available imagery.
Why did you decide to work in the science field?
I was encouraged from a young age to get involved in science, however I found my real interest was in understanding spatial patterns (the arrangement of things in space) in response to human interaction, therefore it seemed natural that I would work in GIS & RS. Additionally, being able to work outside and be involved with decisions (both top-down and bottom-up) that affect communities, particularly in the Pacific, was a major motivation of why I decided to work in science.
What impact does your work have on the Pacific region?
With the adaptation of GIS & RS technologies, more data (and derived information) is created, utilised, shared and disseminated to better inform decision makers on critical issues specific to the region. This could be the impact of human activity such as mining on nearby terrestrial and marine ecosystems temporally for example.
Being able to visualize such spatial arrangements and link these to certain activities is powerful for evidence-based decisions, which would encourage appropriate sustainable solutions. The impact through adding value to datasets through analysis could be as minimal as the development of land use plans for rural farmers to quantifying mangrove forest loss and associated carbon loss (both above and below-ground) at a national scale.
Advice to other young women or girls on getting involved in STEM?
I think it is always a good idea to envision yourself in the future by setting short-term and long-term career and personal goals and working towards them. This would help you stay motivated, focusing on the bigger picture where your work would be impactful to many. You should interact and also identify successful local women in your field as your role models and surround yourself with like-minded individuals interested in pursuing the same field as yourself (these relationships will eventually come in handy).