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Black Sea Young Ambassador Programme

Black Sea Young Ambassadors

Black Sea Young Ambassadors are young early career ocean professionals who come from different backgrounds in marine and maritime research, industry, policy, civil society, and either in educational programmes or in the early stages of their carrier. 17 young ambassadors from 7 Black Sea riparian countries come together with a common vision for productive, healthy, resilient, sustainable, and better-valued Black Sea under the umbrella of Horizon 2020 funded Black Sea CONNECT Coordination and Support Action. Since September 2020, they conduct activities to raise awareness of this unique sea in line with the Black Sea Blue Growth Initiative.

Black Sea Young Ambassadors started their journey by defining national and regional needs and priorities under the umbrella of the Black Sea Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (Black Sea SRIA) with participating in Black Sea SRIA Consultation Meetings in September 2020. Afterward, they have conducted meetings to share their opinions about using and develop tools with blue innovations to make our planet green, our oceans blue for all organisms, and our future to bright, sustainable colors. In the Black Sea Day dedicated event, on 30 October 2020, the Black Sea Young Ambassadors Programme was officially launched by the European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel. In the event, Commissioner Gabriel shared new plans towards increasing support of youth, education, and science. In the event, they had a chance to share their plan for making the Black Sea more visible. They made an emphasis on the missing links in the Black Sea and how to re-connect and create those links for Black Sea.

After the launch of the programme, with the aim of revealing the unknowns of the Black Sea and re-connect missing links between scientists and society; they have been conducting their activities on two fundamental themes: (1) Ocean Engaged Citizens and the Black Sea Identity (2) Multiple Stressors in the Black Sea and Blue Synergy.

In light of these two core concepts, the Young Ambassadors both play an important role in advocating for Blue Growth in the Black Sea and promote the goals of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda. Black Sea Young Ambassadors give voice to the Black Sea in different channels and events to re-connect missing links and make the best use of the facilities of the new media tools, producing educational videos, social media campaigns, and many more.

Black Sea Young Ambassador Activities


Meet Black Sea Young Ambassadors

Jennifer Mary Ivanoff

My name is Jennifer Mary Ivanoff and currently I am working in the Institute of Oceanology “Fridtjof Nansen”, Bulgaria. As for my educational qualifications, I have a bachelor’s degree in marine science and a master´s in Oceanography (both from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain). During my degree I have also participated in the Erasmus+ program for half a year, in Bergen (Norway) and had the possibility to join some scientific expedition during my master´s.

Florin Zainescu

I am a young coastal scientist with a love for the sea and its beaches. I got my PhD from the University of Bucharest in Romania and Aix-Marseille University in France studying the river mouths of the Danube. I spend my summer months in the Danube delta doing fieldwork and enjoying nature, whereas winters are reserved for the stressful activity of publishing of scientific papers.

Evgeniia Kostianaia

I am a marine environmental manager with research interests in ocean sustainability, marine pollution, marine spatial planning, ocean clusters, and climate change, and food security. Icurrently work at the Center for Coordination of Ocean Research at the P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology. I was responsible for the project on the achievement of SDG14 in the Russian parts of the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and the Caspian Sea, which lasted in 2018-2019. I am also a member of the Informal Working Group of Early Career Ocean Professionals at the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

Sofia Sadogurska

I am a marine biologist and PhD Student at the M.G. Kholodny Institute of Botany NASU. My research interest on the Black Sea marine algae has been started in high school and continued until now. I’ve got my Master Degree from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. In addition, I completed courses on environmental management in Germany (CIPSEM, Dresden) and Israel (Arava Institute), as well as a course on maritime policy from the International Ocean Institute (Malta).

Salome Kobaidze

I am a PhD student at Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (TSU). I have a Degree of Master of Social Sciences in Human Geography 2012-2015 and Degree of Bachelor of Social Sciences in Human Geography 2008-2012 from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Tbilisi (Georgia) Faculty of Social and Political Sciences. She is the Director of Algeti National Park Friends Association since 2017.

Gizem Akkus

I earned my bachelor's degree in Biological Sciences at Middle East Technical University and my master's degree at the Marine Biology and Fisheries Department in the METU, Institute of Marine Sciences. I am recently a Ph. D. candidate in the same department and I am a Research Assistant at METU-IMS Oceanography Department since 2017.

Oana Poiană

I work as a (postdoctoral) scientific researcher at the European Research Institute Faculty of European Studies, "Babeș-Bolyai" University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. I graduated from the Faculty of Political Science, BBU, hold one MA in International Relations from Central European University (Budapest), and another one in European Affairs and Project Management from Faculty of European Studies (Cluj-Napoca).

Sebastian Blicher

I am Sebastian, I graduated from “Mircea cel Batran” Naval Academy and then I started working as a Deck Officer on container vessels. Black Sea is a big part of my life because I live in Constanta, next to it, and also I am navigating through the seas and oceans of the world. In the past I had volunteered for different projects or internships like environmental project “Let’s do it Romania” or internship at the Ministry of Transportation - Naval Transportation office, which gave me a better insight between policy-making area and on the field job differences.

Tudor Trifan

I am 23 years old and I am a multilaterally developed person who loves challenges and who is not indifferent to the world around him. I’m graduated in Geography at Tiraspol State University, now I study Geomatics at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi and Enviromental Geography at Tiraspol State University to get master degree, also I work as a engineer at Institute of Geology and Seismology.

Irina Gancheva

I'm Irina Gancheva and currently I'm a PhD student at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" in Bulgaria and a young graduate trainee at the European Space Agency in ESRIN, Italy. I have graduated physics BSc at the University of Stuttgart and MSc at Free University of Berlin in Germany.

Valentyna Chepurna

I am a PhD student, of Science in Earth Sciences at Odesa State Environmental University, Ukraine; The subject of my scientific research is forecast and verification of marine characteristics such us: salinity, temperature, waves, and sea level, ice, and etc. I believe that working together Black Sea countries could make a piece of the world better and fairer.

Begüm Uzun

I’m a marine biologist and a population geneticist, from Istanbul, Turkey. Marine life has influenced me a lot since my childhood and I have been very inquisitive about marine biology since the beginning of my intellectual awareness. I have just got my Ph.D. in Department of Marine Biology in Istanbul University.

Tatiana Semeniuc

I graduated from the Faculty of International Relations in 2020. Within the framework of the Diversity Intern Program, I took an internship at UNDP Moldova, at the Effective Governance Cluster, where I learned about the main problems in the implementation of projects and the importance of interaction between government agencies and scientists while implementing ecological projects.

Selma Menabit

I graduated the Faculty of Biology of Ovidius University Constanta, Romania. I have a Master Degree in Biodiversity Conservation. I have been working for more than 3 years as a biologist at the National Institute of Marine Geology and Geo-Ecology GeoEcoMar, Constanta branch. I’m involved in different projects aiming at monitoring and managing the quality of the Black Sea ecosystems.

Mariam Avakova

I hold a Master’s Degree in Natural Resources (Environmental Protection and Ecology) from Ilia State University’s Science and Engineering Faculty. I am now involved in a course on Digital Journalism for the Caucasus by the Interlink Academy, sponsored by the German Foreign Ministry. I graduated with a BA from the same university, majoring in English Science and minoring in Ecology.

Stefania Klayn

I have an MSc in marine biology from the University of Brest, France, and a PhD on benthic invertebrate communities in the Black Sea from the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Since 2011, I have been working as a researcher at IBER-BAS. My scientific interests include the biodiversity and ecology of the Black Sea benthic invertebrate communities, human impacts on coastal ecosystems, environmental quality assessment, habitat mapping and marine ecosystem functioning.

Elena Culighin

I am Program Manager within the NGO National Environmental Centre since 2018 and a scientific researcher at the Institute of Chemistry since 2015 where I am working towards the PhD thesis. My activities aim at developing the environmental education among the population, raising awareness and mobilizing all citizens, as a joint effort of all the actors of society (civil society, public authorities, business community, educational institutions, mass media, citizens) to restore natural balance and to tackle the path of sustainable and prosperous development.

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