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Meet Suzana Blake, Environmental Anthropologist

July 20, 2022

Part of the Faces of the Southeast Fisheries Science Center series, meet Suzana Dumitrita Blake, Ph.D.

Suzana Blake in her home office, July 2022 Suzana Blake in her home office, July 2022. Photo courtesy of Suzana Blake.

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Satu Mare, a town in Northwestern Romania. 

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Suzana and family visiting Sighisoara, a well-preserved medieval city in the heart of Transylvania, Romania - 2019.
Suzana and family visiting Sighisoara, a well-preserved medieval city in the heart of Transylvania, Romania - 2019. Photo courtesy of Suzana Blake.

Where did you go to school and in what subject did you get your degree(s)?

I did my undergraduate studies in Romania where I graduated with a degree in Human Geography. I then took a 10-year break from school before I moved to the U.S. to attend Florida International University. There, I earned a Masters degree in Comparative Sociology, and a Doctorate in Environmental Anthropology.

How did you come to work at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center?

At the Southeast Fisheries Science Center I started as an Interviewer for the Voices Oral History Archives. Afterwards, I got hired as an Affiliate Researcher for the science center. 

What do you do at the science center?

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Dr. Blake visiting the wetland communities of Southern Louisiana at the end of the State of the Coast Conference in 2018.
Dr. Blake visiting the wetland communities of Southern Louisiana at the end of the State of the Coast Conference in 2018. Photo courtesy of Suzana Blake.

I work with the Integrated Ecosystem Assessment team. Broadly, our goal is to provide fisheries managers with the science and tools that assist in managing coastal ecosystems. For example, we collected oral histories from fishermen affected by red tides. This expanded our understanding of where and when these events occurred. We also learned more about the species affected, habitat impacts, recovery speed of ecosystems, and community resiliency. Learn more about the Oral History Collection.

I am also involved in a collaborative project with HistoryMiami Museum that seeks to preserve the rich history of endangered fishing traditions in the Greater Miami Area. We are collecting oral history interviews to expand our knowledge of the region's fisheries. Also, we want to learn about the role that fishing has had in shaping the region economically and culturally. Learn more about the collaborative project with HistoryMiami Museum.

What do you like most about your position?

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Suzana enjoying a walk with her daughter after a work day in Seattle, Washington at the Fisheries Human Dimensions Meeting, August 2017.
Suzana enjoying a walk with her daughter after a work day in Seattle, Washington at the Fisheries Human Dimensions Meeting, August 2017. Photo courtesy of Suzana Blake.

I like the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s employee community and the type of work I do. My love for the center’s community started with the oral history interviews where I got to talk with the retired folks of the science center. I loved their passion and dedication for their work, and above all, I loved the way they talked about the welcoming and accommodating work environment at the science center. It was refreshing to hear from female interviewees that they were able to balance the challenges of motherhood with the demands of the job because of the flexible scheduling. That was very important to me because I was expecting my first child at that time. As I began work at the center, I was able to travel to a lot of professional meetings with my newborn. In fact, my child was only 4 months old when I attended my first conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was an adventure that I have repeated multiple times since! I feel very fulfilled in my job at the science center, and I enjoy learning from an interdisciplinary group of coworkers. Also, I love to work in the field and learn about the state of fisheries directly from fish harvesters. 

Is there a book, quote, or person that influenced you to be the person that you are today? Tell us why.

There are a lot of books and people that have influenced the person I am today. One person that has influenced me since my graduate studies is Donna Haraway. She’s a provocative thinker that has taught me the ways to “stay with the trouble” and work on finding solutions instead of choosing to believe in a variety of apocalyptic scenarios. Certainly that is a tough lesson these days. I love Haraway’s call to collaborate with other people and other species in such a way that evolves kinship-type bonds.  

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Suzana with her husband, mother-in-law and children hiking in the Florida Everglades.
Suzana with her husband, mother-in-law and children hiking in the Florida Everglades. Photo courtesy of Suzana Blake.

What do you like to do outside of work?

My time outside of work is almost entirely consumed by family activities around our home. During the summer, we enjoy Saturday mornings at the pool or at the beach. Before the pandemic, we used to travel a lot to visit our relatives in the U.S. and abroad. Lately, I enjoy the simple things, like watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee and my journal. 

Contact Suzana

Last updated by Southeast Fisheries Science Center on July 20, 2022