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Around the world with Monique Baskin
Katie Valentine
/ Categories: Profile, Women in Research

Around the world with Monique Baskin

A day in the life of a NOAA international activities analyst

In honor of Women's History Month, NOAA scientists from across the country are taking readers inside what a typical day in their life looks like. Today, we’re taking a look at the policy side of NOAA, with a story from Monique Baskin, management and program analyst in NOAA Research’s Office of International Activities.

As an analyst in NOAA Research’s Office of International Activities, I coordinate and facilitate meetings and activities within our atmospheric/weather and climate portfolios. This means I work with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Chinese Meteorological Administration (CMA), European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which is a federal program that coordinates research and investments to better understand how our planet is changing. I also work to coordinate OAR lab and/or program initiatives across NOAA or other federal agencies. Each person on our team has a different portfolio —  others focus on relations with countries such as Japan, Canada, and EU member countries, and on initiatives like the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

When I get into the office each morning, I start with emails. I typically will check for any burning issues, and then I will check for status updates for meetings that I am helping plan. I then continue the process of following up on taskers — or requests for information, input or updates on initiatives — sent out to the labs and programs, most of which come from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Other tasks are specific to bilateral meetings that are being planned.

If I'm in the beginning planning stages for something like a meeting with an agency in another country, my day usually begins by coordinating with NOAA Research’s Assistant Administrator, Craig McLean and his team. We need to confirm his availability to be a leader  for the meeting, and then I schedule pre-briefs where I can bring him up to speed on the issues and our official stance from the perspective of NOAA. I also provide him with talking points for the actual meeting where signing of agreements take place. 

Monique Baskin
Monique's headshot.

All of this takes preparation. I begin the process of preparing for a meeting by gathering and putting together documents on the history of the bilateral meeting, any agreements or activities that came out of the previous meeting, and any updates to those activities and proposals for new ones. I get this information from our NOAA scientists, program managers, and documents such as the NOAA Research strategic plan. I work a lot with the National Weather Service, as most of my portfolio is on the atmospheric side of the house, so I often schedule meetings with their teams to coordinate agendas, travel, and logistics, and make sure there is a united front on the info that will be presented during the actual meeting. 

Once those arrangements have been done (which typically takes a few months), I turn my attention to other projects such as coordinated planning of a workshop. There are also administrative parts of my job —  for instance, I process requests for visas, as our team hosts a lot of visiting research scholars, and provide updates to the NOAA Research Senior Management team as well as NOAA’s International Activities team downtown in DC (our office is located in Silver Spring, MD). 

I end my workday on schedule because I need to get home to pick up my child —  which is why my day is pretty packed, fast paced and productive! For me, a productive day is getting as many tasks accomplished as possible, but it may be that only one big task gets done.

I think my biggest challenge in this job was needing to get up to speed quickly. For example, when I first started my job, I'd had no interaction with the WMO, and I needed to quickly find the key NOAA Research players and make sure I understood the US position on a variety of topics from gender representation to ocean frameworks and health resolutions. 

I’ve been in this job for one year now, and overall, it is certainly one that I've really wanted, and feel like I'm well suited for given my international background and educational training. I grew up traveling to different countries and interacting with people from different cultures, so being in the international space is natural for me. I also believe that, in the face of climate change, we should do all that we can do to make this planet livable today and in the future. I always say that even if the scientific facts were completely wrong, it doesn't hurt to take better care of our environment. This position also works for me because my educational background is in environmental health, science and policy and this position provides the perfect intersection to not only work on policies, but implement them as well.

I strongly encourage women (or anyone) to consider working in the STEM fields, especially those with a policy and public administration background. These fields provide opportunities for those who are interested in policy to add their voice and skills to industries that make real change in our lives.

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