Emerging scientist: Danika Kleiber

As a global leader in fisheries and aquaculture research, science is at the forefront of our work, delivering robust evidence to policy makers, technological innovations to poor producers and consumers, and novel tools to transform fish agri-food systems. In this new series, we profile our emerging scientists, early career research talents who are already making a significant contribution to fisheries and aquaculture knowledge.

Danika Kleiber is a Research Fellow working with WorldFish and James Cook University, a FISH managing partner, particularly in the Pacific region. She has woven together her background in women’s studies and biology, leading her to specialize in socio-ecological research approaches to natural resource management. She is particularly interested in applied research related to gender, small-scale fisheries and participatory governance.

What are you currently working on? 

I’m working on issues of gender in community-based fisheries management and a pilot in Solomon Islands using Photovoice, a participatory research method that shows considerable promise for capturing the unique perspectives of vulnerable and marginalized populations, such as wom­en in fisheries.

I’m also co-leading the gender analysis of the Illuminating Hidden Harvests study, which WorldFish is conducting with the FAO and Duke University. We’ll collaborate with local experts to find fisheries-related sex-disaggregated data that shows women’s and men’s participation in fisheries but also the benefits they derive from fisheries such as livelihood and nutrition.

What’s the most exciting thing about your research area?  

Everything! Not only do we get to expand our understanding of fishing and fisheries, we also get to apply that knowledge to making the decision-making process more equitable.

What’s the most memorable situation you’ve found yourself in in your research area?  

I was in a community meeting once in Bangladesh where the researchers were facing the men of the village and the women were sitting to the side. I got the researchers to pick up their chairs and turn ourselves 90 degrees so that we were facing both women and men equally. Changing our perspective felt very powerful at the time.

What’s your favorite part of the research process?  

I love sharing our findings, particularly with the communities we worked with.

What innovation do you think has the greatest potential to change your research area?  

Gender-transformative approaches, or methods that ask individuals to reflect on how gender shapes their own lives, have been shown to be very effective at supporting lasting change, not only for gender relationships but also for fisheries outcomes. 

Solomon Islands. Photo by Kirsten Abernethy, 2011.

What piece of recent scientific research are you most proud of?

I’m excited about some collaborative work I’ve been doing with gender and fisheries researchers around the world to develop capacity and capability indicators for national fisheries agencies to integrate gender in their management and research.

What do you hope your research achieves? 

I hope my research helps development agencies and other fisheries agencies get better at integrating gender into their work.

What would your dream role be?

What I’m doing right now: working with students, practitioners, NGOs and communities to make fisheries work for everyone.