Environmental Guardian: Dr. Eugenia Molina’s Quest for Sustainable Seas

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Eugenia Molina. Photography: Erin McKinney
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by Edward Hunt

Every Saturday we’re spotlighting remarkable local females who could change the way we look at the world. This Saturday is Dr. Eugenia Molina’s turn, a steadfast advocate for environmental preservation, who has become an integral part of the community’s resilience against the ever-looming threats to its coastal waters. Her journey, marked by coincidence and dedication, unfolds as a testament to the transformative power of individual commitment in the pursuit of a sustainable future.

Originally from the idyllic landscapes of Galicia and later a resident of bustling Barcelona, Dr. Molina’s journey to Trieste was serendipitous. The catalyst for her relocation was her husband’s job offer in Monfalcone, initially intended as a one-year commitment. However, eight years later, the Molina family finds themselves deeply ingrained in the fabric of Trieste, with Dr. Molina emerging as a leading figure in the fight against environmental degradation.

Dr. Molina’s professional trajectory is rooted in environmental stewardship. Before her sojourn in Trieste, she had worked diligently with the Spanish Coast Guard, where her responsibilities included monitoring pollution in coastal waters. Yet, as life led her to concentrate on familial obligations, her career took a temporary hiatus. It was in the welcoming arms of Trieste that she found an opportunity to rekindle her passion, joining the esteemed Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale.

Her current mission is a profound exploration of the chemical and physical elements that define Trieste’s coastal waters and extend to the broader maritime environment. The Mediterranean, she notes, possesses a unique vulnerability due to its isolation, making it more susceptible to environmental challenges. Dr. Molina’s work emerges as a critical cornerstone in comprehending and mitigating potential threats that could jeopardize the ecological balance of this distinctive region.

Since 2009, the Gulf of Trieste has been under intense scrutiny, with focused efforts directed at understanding the impact of various factors on its seawater. Dr. Molina, actively engaged in data collection since 2017, plays a pivotal role in contributing to wider European initiatives aimed at deciphering the intricate web of interactions shaping maritime ecosystems. To her, data is not just information but akin to Lego pieces, waiting to be meticulously organized to construct solutions that can effectively manage and protect coastal areas and seas.

In Dr. Molina’s perspective, the Adriatic serves as a microcosm, representing smaller seas at risk due to intense human presence, lacking the expansive breadth of major oceans. While she maintains that Trieste is no better or worse than other coastal cities, she underscores the urgent need for public education. Dr. Molina believes that the residents must grasp the profound impact of seemingly inconspicuous actions, citing the disposal of cooking oil as an example of a pollutant that collective efforts could alleviate.

The institute she collaborates with extends its reach to broader European initiatives, particularly addressing pressing issues such as plastic pollution. However, Dr. Molina places significant emphasis on local efforts, asserting that the true economic impact arises from the actions of individual citizens. In her view, positive changes in local environments are contingent on “what every citizen can do,” advocating for a sense of collective responsibility rather than waiting for higher authorities to implement comprehensive programs.

Dr. Eugenia Molina’s work transcends the confines of a laboratory, reaching into the hearts and minds of Trieste’s citizens. In a crowning achievement, Dr. Eugenia Molina was honored with the prestigious ‘Spiga di Grano’ award by Vitale Onlus in March 2022, recognizing her outstanding contributions to environmental preservation.

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Edward Hunt
Edward is a defence consultant working independently for various companies and governments. He has lived in Trieste since 2017 after moving with his family from London. Currently he also writes articles for various aerospace industry magazines, works with flight simulator game developers and corrects erroneous opinions in the FT comments sections like a Boss.

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