New PhD candidate: Sara Vieira
Tell us a bit about the work you are/will be doing at CCMAR.
I am a PhD student interested in investigating best practices for biodiversity management and conservation, with a strong focus on interactions between people and wildlife. The main goals of my PhD are to understand the ecology and habitat use of sea turtles around São Tomé Island, to assess the impact of small-scale fisheries on sea turtles and to understand the socioeconomic and cultural implications of turtle consumptive use and conservation, in order to generate recommendations to improve the conservation status of sea turtle populations occurring in the country. This research will contribute to identify priority areas for monitoring and surveillance of these populations and to develop mitigation strategies to reduce by-catch on the main artisanal fishing gear used in the country, to be incorporated on a National Sea turtle Conservation Action Plan to be presented to the National Government. This project is funded by FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia in Portugal through the doctoral scholarship nº 2020.05979.BD.
What were you doing before you joined us?
For the past 11 years, I have been committed to sea turtle conservation, by developing and managing research and conservation projects worldwide and by improving the building capacity efforts of a large scope of multidisciplinary partners and stakeholders, including governmental entities, community leaders and international partners, especially in Central America and Africa.
Since 2014, I have been coordinating the Sea Turtle Conservation Program on São Tomé Island, Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe (Programa Tatô). I am currently the vice president, science officer and one of the co-founders of the Association Programa Tatô and a member of the IUCN Sea Turtle Specialists Group. As the technical coordinator of this project, my work in São Tomé and Príncipe involved the development, management and planning of activities developed under the several components of an integrated marine conservation program, including scientific research, environmental awareness and outreach, alternative livelihoods and advocacy. São Tomé and Príncipe have been a truly lab and an enriched experience essential to my professional career as a marine biologist, conservationist and project manager, and to my personal growth as a leader, an activist and a human being. Having the opportunity to work in conservation with a holistic approach is what keeps me motivated and makes me feel accomplished.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
When I am not working you may find me cooking at home, scuba diving or hiking with my dogs. I am also passionate about travelling, meeting new cultures and embracing the principles of ayurvedic medicine as a path to becoming a better version of myself.