Q&A with Dr Seeseei Molimau-Samasoni

Samoa’s Dr Seeseei Molimau-Samasoni is a leader in her field, championing women and girls and advancing innovative practices and transformative technology that help forge positive change in Samoa and the Pacific.

In 2008, Dr Molimau-Samasoni graduated from the University of Newcastle as an expert in biotechnology. On her return to Samoa, she played a crucial role in the establishment of an accredited laboratory at the Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (SROS), that specialises in food safety testing. She also led the work to protect Samoa’s genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

PHAMA Plus worked closely with Dr Molimau-Samasoni through its partnership with SROS in relation to the research for verification of the hot water treatment for export of fresh taro to Australia.­

In this brief Q&A, she shares some insights and inspiration into her world to celebrate International Women’s Day 2023! 

  • Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am from Saleimoa, Leulumoega Tuai, Apolima, Nuu Fou. I studied at the Samoa College, UPY NUS, University of Newcastle Australia, and Victoria University of Wellington NZ. I am currently the Manager, Plants & Postharvest Technologies Division at SROS.

  • What does your role involve?

 My role involves senior management duties within SROS. I lead research project management and implementation, manage staff/research personnel and project budgets, manage relationships with local and overseas stakeholders and engage in strategic coordination of division direction.

  • What’s it like being a woman leader in a male dominated field?

I feel empowered and fortunate to be a woman working in a male dominated field. I feel that being a woman in a male dominated field allows me to bring in a unique perspective and approach to scientific research and community engagement.

  • What are some of the challenges faced in your line of work? How have you managed to cope with these challenges?

Probably one of the key challenges in my line work is having my voice drowned out/not being heard amidst older men within meetings. While gender was not a factor for me reaching where I am today, I do find that gender does factor in more now at leadership levels, where a woman may need to employ strategies to ensure her voice is heard within male-dominated meetings and discussions.

  • Who has motivated, supported and encouraged you to come this far?

 My parents were my key supporters from within my home. My Science Teachers Mr. Tagiilima (Yr8)  and Mr Fretton (Yr10-13) inspired me to pursue the field of science. I have also been fortunate to have been supported and mentored by key figures in Science/Agriculture including the late Hon. Faamoetauloa Dr. Faale Tumaalii, Tilafono David Hunter, Dr. Seuseu Tauati, and Prof Steven Underhill from the University of the Sunshine Coast.

  • Why did you choose to do what you do now?

I am a firm believer in pursuing a career that you’re passionate about, because then it doesn’t feel like a burden going to work every day. I am excited about the prospect of learning and discovering something new through research in Samoa, that can impact the livelihood of Samoan people.

  • What is your message to the young men and women in Samoa and the Pacific who are interested in joining your field?

Trust in the Lord to guide your path, listen to the wise advice from your parents and mentors, and put in the hard work. No pain no gain.

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