Interview

Nolwenn Danioux - Manager of the oceanographic cruises database

What course of study did you follow?  What was qualifications do you have?

I didn't have a precise idea of the job I ultimately wanted to do but I decided to study science and I obtained a baccalaureate C in 1994.

I went on to study statistics and data processing at the University Institute of Technology (IUT) in Vannes, where I obtained my technical diploma (DUT) in 1996. This training course covers mathematics, statistics and IT, as well as economics and administration. In the first year, as part of a small group, I carried out a study with Météo-France. I also chose to do an introductory work placement (not mandatory) at Ifremer. In my second year, I did my end-of-studies work placement, also at Ifremer, in the Fisheries Resources service, with Daniel Latrouite, where I worked on the analysis of crab fishing data.

In 1998, I joined Ifremer on a temporary replacement contract, still in fisheries. I then brought my knowledge of data analysis and database management to the laboratory. Among other things, I took part in a European study on the fishing power of French netters. I also took part in the first PREDOC for what would subsequently become the fisheries information system SIH.

In 2001, I was offered a permanent position as marine chemistry and physics data manager at SISMER. Within the physics data bank team, this involved recovering, formatting, checking and validating the data acquired on-board ships by scientists and making it available to the worldwide scientific community.

From 2008 to 2012, I left Brest to work in La Seyne-sur-Mer at the Mediterranean Centre. There, I had a two-fold role: archivist (managing paper archives for the Mediterranean Centre) and environmental data manager at LER/PAC. In particular, I produced monitoring reports on the quality of the marine environment, took part in a study on macro-waste and worked on Posidonia.

In 2012, I was given the chance to return to SISMER where I was placed in charge of the cruise catalogue.

Why did you choose this profession?

I don't think I really did choose my profession; rather, I think it's my profession that chose me!

In fact, I have known Ifremer ever since I was little because my dad was an engineer here. He worked on technology, in particular on aquaculture cages. I grew up in this environment and I wanted to remain in Brest. It seemed to be THE ideal employer for my career.

I now know that I made the right choice. And above all, I was very lucky to be able to join Ifremer.

What does being cruises database manager involve?

At the core of SISMER's activity, this profession consists in obtaining the necessary information (dates, zones, types of data, etc.,) from the various data banks (physics, geoscience, etc.,) for better archiving. There are clearly defined actions to be carried out:

• Creation, in the database, of a portfolio of projected cruises for the forthcoming year from the schedules provided by the joint service unit (UMS) which coordinates the French oceanographic fleet. It is from these forecasts that we know when the cruises are finished and can request their results.

• Remind the mission leaders to provide information on the end of the cruise, such as the description, the work done and the measurements taken at sea.

• This information is entered into the database via an interface and published online.

• Produce an annual review of the French research cruises, which lists the cruises carried out during the previous year and presents various statistics.

Can you describe a typical working day? What are your hours?

My activities are so varied that there really isn't a typical day. However, some tasks are carried out regularly:

• Launching SQL queries (reminders to mission leaders, updating information in the database, etc.).

• Exchanging emails with scientists and colleagues.

• Writing documentation (manuals, review, etc.).

The hours are flexible because we operate flexitime (fixed core time period plus variable periods). We work 38 hours per week. In the morning I start between 7:30 and 7:45 and in the afternoon I leave between between 4 pm and 5 pm.

What is your working environment like? Do you travel for professional purposes?

My work is done exclusively on a computer in an office. There is no work in the field and professional travel is extremely rare, unfortunately.

Who are your day-to-day contacts?

In this position, I liaise with:

• the various mission leaders to recover their information at the end of each cruise,

• ship management organisations (IPEV, IRD, INSU and Ifremer),

• the joint service unit (UMS) which manages the programming of the French oceanographic fleet,

• the cruise evaluation commissions to pay particular attention to the "laggards" who don't send in their cruise reports in time,

• our European partners for the distribution of all this information through European projects.

But my work also requires links with:

• my colleagues at SISMER to coordinate our actions between cruise information and data,

• the colleagues from the Information Systems Engineering (ISI) service, who develop the digital tools that are essential for data banking and distribution.

What qualities are required for this position?

For data management in general, it is important be disciplined and organised in order to successfully complete all the tasks necessary to archiving. It is rich and varied work, but it is important to remain focused. You mustn't be shy and you must be capable of chasing people up to get responses. You sometimes need to be rather persevering to get the data or the cruise forms in time.

What do you prefer about your profession?

What I like most about this position is the variety of tasks and the autonomy with which I can perform them. What’s more, as IT and data management are constantly evolving, you always need to reappraise yourself and keep up with the latest developments.

What is most difficult aspect of your profession?

The most difficult aspect is having to contend with the heavy workloads of the scientists, who sometimes neglect this data banking part. So you need to chase them up again and again and never give up. Perseverance usually pays off.

What advice could you give to young people who are interested in this profession?

If you are interested in data management, you first need to get the necessary training. The more comprehensive the training, the easier it will be to then find work. Do as many work experience placements as you can to find the field of application that is most suited to what you are interested in. Opt for work-study programmes as soon as possible. And lastly, you must be aware that as you spend a large amount of your time at work, you need to choose well so that you don't find yourself dragging your feet!

What is the data used for? What scientific projects do you participate in?

The main project concerned by the research cruises is SeaDataNet, to which we send the end-of-cruise information weekly. The cruise forecasts are sent once a year to the POGO project, which itself supplies the Eurofleets 2 project.

Furthermore, the cruise catalogue is also the central point for all of the data banks (biology, geology, physics, etc.). It is based on this information that each of the data banks knows whether or not there is data to be recovered and archived.

The information from these cruises, available online via the cruise catalogue, is also useful to the scientific community, which often seeks data that has already been collected from a particular place, ocean or during a given period. All the information of interest can thereby be listed and the associated data downloaded.

What course of study did you follow?  What was qualifications do you have?

I didn't have a precise idea of the job I ultimately wanted to do but I decided to study science and I obtained a baccalaureate C in 1994.

I went on to study statistics and data processing at the University Institute of Technology (IUT) in Vannes, where I obtained my technical diploma (DUT) in 1996. This training course covers mathematics, statistics and IT, as well as economics and administration. In the first year, as part of a small group, I carried out a study with Météo-France. I also chose to do an introductory work placement (not mandatory) at Ifremer. In my second year, I did my end-of-studies work placement, also at Ifremer, in the Fisheries Resources service, with Daniel Latrouite, where I worked on the analysis of crab fishing data.

In 1998, I joined Ifremer on a temporary replacement contract, still in fisheries. I then brought my knowledge of data analysis and database management to the laboratory. Among other things, I took part in a European study on the fishing power of French netters. I also took part in the first PREDOC for what would subsequently become the fisheries information system SIH.

In 2001, I was offered a permanent position as marine chemistry and physics data manager at SISMER. Within the physics data bank team, this involved recovering, formatting, checking and validating the data acquired on-board ships by scientists and making it available to the worldwide scientific community.

From 2008 to 2012, I left Brest to work in La Seyne-sur-Mer at the Mediterranean Centre. There, I had a two-fold role: archivist (managing paper archives for the Mediterranean Centre) and environmental data manager at LER/PAC. In particular, I produced monitoring reports on the quality of the marine environment, took part in a study on macro-waste and worked on Posidonia.

In 2012, I was given the chance to return to SISMER where I was placed in charge of the cruise catalogue.

 

Why did you choose this profession?

I don't think I really did choose my profession; rather, I think it's my profession that chose me!

In fact, I have known Ifremer ever since I was little because my dad was an engineer here. He worked on technology, in particular on aquaculture cages. I grew up in this environment and I wanted to remain in Brest. It seemed to be THE ideal employer for my career.

I now know that I made the right choice. And above all, I was very lucky to be able to join Ifremer.

 

What does being cruises database manager involve?

At the core of SISMER's activity, this profession consists in obtaining the necessary information (dates, zones, types of data, etc.,) from the various data banks (physics, geoscience, etc.,) for better archiving. There are clearly defined actions to be carried out:

  • Creation, in the database, of a portfolio of projected cruises for the forthcoming year from the schedules provided by the joint service unit (UMS) which coordinates the French oceanographic fleet. It is from these forecasts that we know when the cruises are finished and can request their results.
  • Remind the mission leaders to provide information on the end of the cruise, such as the description, the work done and the measurements taken at sea.
  • This information is entered into the database via an interface and published online.
  • Produce an annual review of the French research cruises, which lists the cruises carried out during the previous year and presents various statistics.

 

Can you describe a typical working day? What are your hours?

My activities are so varied that there really isn't a typical day. However, some tasks are carried out regularly:

  • Launching SQL queries (reminders to mission leaders, updating information in the database, etc.).
  • Exchanging emails with scientists and colleagues.
  • Writing documentation (manuals, review, etc.).

The hours are flexible because we operate flexitime (fixed core time period plus variable periods). We work 38 hours per week. In the morning I start between 7:30 and 7:45 and in the afternoon I leave between between 4 pm and 5 pm.

 

What is your working environment like? Do you travel for professional purposes?

My work is done exclusively on a computer in an office. There is no work in the field and professional travel is extremely rare, unfortunately.

 

Who are your day-to-day contacts?

In this position, I liaise with:

  • the various mission leaders to recover their information at the end of each cruise,
  • ship management organisations (IPEV, IRD, INSU and Ifremer),
  • the joint service unit (UMS) which manages the programming of the French oceanographic fleet,
  • the cruise evaluation commissions to pay particular attention to the "laggards" who don't send in their cruise reports in time,
  • our European partners for the distribution of all this information through European projects.

But my work also requires links with:

  • my colleagues at SISMER to coordinate our actions between cruise information and data,
  • the colleagues from the Information Systems Engineering (ISI) service, who develop the digital tools that are essential for data banking and distribution.

 

What qualities are required for this position?

For data management in general, it is important be disciplined and organised in order to successfully complete all the tasks necessary to archiving. It is rich and varied work, but it is important to remain focused. You mustn't be shy and you must be capable of chasing people up to get responses. You sometimes need to be rather persevering to get the data or the cruise forms in time.

 
What do you prefer about your profession?

What I like most about this position is the variety of tasks and the autonomy with which I can perform them. What’s more, as IT and data management are constantly evolving, you always need to reappraise yourself and keep up with the latest developments.

 
What is most difficult aspect of your profession?

The most difficult aspect is having to contend with the heavy workloads of the scientists, who sometimes neglect this data banking part. So you need to chase them up again and again and never give up. Perseverance usually pays off.

 

 

What advice could you give to young people who are interested in this profession?

If you are interested in data management, you first need to get the necessary training. The more comprehensive the training, the easier it will be to then find work. Do as many work experience placements as you can to find the field of application that is most suited to what you are interested in. Opt for work-study programmes as soon as possible. And lastly, you must be aware that as you spend a large amount of your time at work, you need to choose well so that you don't find yourself dragging your feet!

 
What is the data used for? What scientific projects do you participate in?

The main project concerned by the research cruises is SeaDataNet, to which we send the end-of-cruise information weekly. The cruise forecasts are sent once a year to the POGO project, which itself supplies the Eurofleets 2 project.

Furthermore, the cruise catalogue is also the central point for all of the data banks (biology, geology, physics, etc.). It is based on this information that each of the data banks knows whether or not there is data to be recovered and archived.

The information from these cruises, available online via the cruise catalogue, is also useful to the scientific community, which often seeks data that has already been collected from a particular place, ocean or during a given period. All the information of interest can thereby be listed and the associated data downloaded.