Dr. Scharnow's first degree was in geography and biology and was awarded by what is now the University of Potsdam, where she subsequently worked as a scientific assistant.
For thirty years between 1959 and 1989, she taught and researched at Wustrow college of seafaring, which subsequently became Warnemünde-Wustrow University of Seafaring. Her duties here were wide-ranging, including for example the development of the curriculum relating to fishing.
After she was awarded her doctorate, she became a senior university lecturer in maritime transport technology and senior scientist in this discipline with responsibility for developing teaching and research into product information/cargo care.

Working closely with seafarers, she was responsible for supervising numerous dissertations and theses in these subjects.
In 1980, she completed her postdoctoral thesis on "The significance of product information for optimizing transport, handling and storage operations in maritime transport".
Over the course of her teaching and research career, Dr. Scharnow was responsible for more than one hundred and fifty publications, including teaching and research materials entitled "Praxis des Seetransports" [practical issues in maritime transport], the three-volume "Codierte Handbuch der Güter des Seetransports" [coded manual of goods carried by maritime transport] and "Kühl- und Gefriergut auf Seeschiffen" [chilled and frozen goods on ocean-going vessels]. "Praxis des Seetransports" was also published in two Polish editions and was taught in Polish seafaring colleges. A "cargo type code" was developed for the "Codierte Handbuch der Güter des Seetransports", creating the foundations for computer-assisted coding of the transportation properties of goods in this manual.
Hand in hand with the gradual expansion of the "Codierte Handbuch der Güter des Seetransports", Dr. Scharnow also carried out extensive research into the container transport of goods, which was based on a classification of the goods by their water content, biotic activity and storage climate requirements.
She has also worked for shipping companies, insurers and courts as an assessor in cases of cargo damage.
Over several decades, Dr. Scharnow developed good relations with colleagues both in Germany and internationally and presented the results of her research to national and international conferences. She has always considered it her primary responsibility to ensure that her scientific findings are put into practice to assist ships' captains and cargo officers.
After being made an emeritus professor, she has worked since 1996 as a freelance loss adjuster for the Transport technical committee of the German Insurance Association (GDV e.V.) and has made a major contribution to the development of the Transport Information Service by assessing the transport properties of two hundred types of cargo and providing numerous photos and drawings.

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