Samantha Allyson Sooknarine

Director, Ahmad ibn Majid Project for Marine Mapping & Sustainable Development

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The most common way which we limit ourselves is by not believing that our ideas are possible.

What do you do?

I am laying the foundation for durable economic growth through sustainable marine resource development. This project is built as a case study and by approaching marine resource management from a scientific perspective, we hope to exemplify how economies can be propelled forward while protecting and enhancing natural areas. It is an innovative exercise in natural resource policy-making, cultural expression, and business diversification. I spend a lot of time on the water carrying out marine operations for research purposes, as well as with diverse interests discussing new business strategies.

Why did you choose this field?

Every day I work not just to protect the ocean, but to share my passion and ignite that spark in others. I was born on an island in the Caribbean and raised on the beach in NYC. I always revered the calm power of the ocean, and as a young teen I was given the opportunity to interact with it in a new way- research. Environmental education and strong role models encouraged me to think differently about learning and use my strengths in creative ways. The path I am on is not one I have followed, it is one I am creating.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Directing a project for a Sheikh at 26 is pretty neat.

Why do you love working in STEM?

It's dynamic. Always different, always evolving. The innovative applications of STEAM fields end where our imaginations end- meaning that when we put our minds together, the opportunities are boundless. It's freedom.

Best advice for next generation?

Follow your heart. As corny as it sounds, the most common way which we limit ourselves is by not believing that our ideas are possible. Surround yourself with independent people who you can learn from, and who encourage you to grow in the ways that YOU want to grow. And give back. Time, love, support. The little things you do can impact others in ways you can't even imagine. You are so important. Oh, and don't get boxed into fields they way they separate things in school. In reality, scientists are artists, and artists are engineers. It is up to you to be clever in how you can apply your skills.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Meh, why not." - pretty much everyone who's about to make a life-changing decision.

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