Network of Women in Marine Science

Inspiring women in ocean science: Liliett Francisco

Liliett Francisco, a Marine Biologist and lecturer at Lurio University’s Faculty of Natural Sciences in Mozambique, has over a decade of experience in studying mangrove ecology. Her research primarily centres on macroinvertebrates, biomass, cover, carbon estimation, and restoration efforts within mangrove ecosystems. Noteworthy for her leadership roles, Liliett previously served as the president of the Scientific Committee and Gender Representative at Lurio University and presently holds membership in WIOMSA. She also actively engages in mapping marine habitats, investigating octopus fishing practices, and spearheading environmental education initiatives aimed at promoting mangrove conservation.

Tell us, what led you to pursue a career in marine/ocean sciences?

I love the ocean environment and have been fascinated by the animals and plants that live there since I was a child. This led me to pursue a degree in Marine Biology at Eduardo Mondlane University, School of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Quelimane in 2008. At the age of 17, I received a scholarship from the Mozambican State budget and left my family and friends to enter higher education. During my course in 2009, I became particularly interested in mangroves and chose to write my thesis on them. After completing my degree, I worked as a lecturer in the Department of Marine Ecology at Lurio University, Faculty of Natural Sciences. I also obtained a master’s degree in applied Ecology, where I focused on studying mangrove macroinvertebrates. Over the years, I have conducted extensive research in marine and coastal environments.

As a marine/ocean professional, what are three critical lessons you have learned? Share your insights and experiences with others who want to become experts in this field.

  • When working in the intertidal zone, it is vital to keep track of the tide. We can get so focused on our work that we may not notice the rising tide, which can be dangerous. Additionally, it is useful to have swimming skills when working in this area.
  • It is essential to involve local communities in all stages of a project. This ensures that they feel a sense of ownership and ensures continuity of the work.
  • Before doing any restoration work, basic studies should be conducted to identify where, and which species should be reforested based on the local environmental conditions. This knowledge is crucial to the success of the project.

In celebration of the International Women’s Day theme “Invest in Women, accelerate Progress”, what progress do you envision for women in the Western Indian Ocean region?

There is good progress— the number of women in the field of marine sciences is increasing, which is positive. We must continue to create more spaces for women in the Western Indian Ocean to share their experiences in order to inspire other women to pursue the field of marine sciences.