Åbo Akademi University’s strategic research profile The Sea investigates models for maritime environment, society and economy, to ensure a continued wellbeing in accordance with The United Nations’ goals for a sustainable development.
We asked our researchers to tell us how their research contributes to healing our seas.
Third out in our English version of the series is Maria Laamanen, Professor of Practice in Marine Environmental Research and Environment Councellor at the Finnish Ministry of the Environment.
Maria Laamanen, what does it mean to be a Professor of Practice, and what do you think is the most important in your work?
“There are different variations of Professorships of Practice depending on the university and department. In my case, a Professor of Practice is a person with a background in science, working in the government (Swe. statsrådet) with the main task of connecting science and policy. For Åbo Akademi University and the Ministry of the Environment, this way of realizing such a post has turned out mutually beneficial.
In the Ministry, my main task is implementation and development of policies related to protection of the marine environment, such as the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive, HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and ocean protection under the UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, SDG14. All of these are highly science and data driven. Marine sciences and marine monitoring help us understand the nature of problems and guide installation of cost-effective measures to combat the problems.
My Professorship of Practice gives me, and through me the Ministry, a direct access to the knowledge and capacities of the multi-disciplinary strategic research profile The Sea of Åbo Akademi University. Similarly, it gives the scientists and students of the Sea a possibility to interact with me and use my knowledge and networks for purposes such as lecturing, mentoring, research papers, examination of student work and conference talks.
I think the most important part of the Professorship of Practice is that it has shifted my work in the Ministry closer to marine science and the research community and I have also been able to take up some extra tasks that are mutually beneficial for both ÅAU and the Ministry, such as the Chairmanship of the Board of the Finnish Marine Research Infrastructure consortium, FINMARI. I hope that the personnel of the Sea can, on their side, say that my Professorship has brought marine environment related policy-making a little closer and more accessible to them.”
The Sea is a current target of donations at Åbo Akademi University.