Foras na Mara

Women in Science – Liz Ryder

To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11th February 2021, the Marine Institute is highlighting the many brilliant women who play transformative and ambitious roles in understanding, exploring, protecting and sustainably managing our oceans wealth.

The Marine Institute is profiling our female scientists, sharing their study and career paths, the work they do at the Marine Institute and the important contribution their work delivers.

Liz Ryder, Marine InstituteLiz Ryder
Scientific and Technical Officer, HYDO-Fish Project
Marine Institute

What is your current role at the Marine Institute and what's involved in your daily work?
I am a Scientific and Technical Officer for the HYDRO-Fish project in Aquaculture. I am fortunate that my role changes with the seasons and the life cycle of salmon at the Marine Institute's Newport Research Facility in Co Mayo, and at Lehanagh Pool Marine Research Site at Beirtreach Buí Bay, Co Galway.

What did you study and why?
I studied Environmental Science in NUI Galway for my undergraduate degree, in my third and fourth year of college, I applied and was awarded a Marine Institute bursary based at the Newport Research Facility. This work experience afforded me the opportunity to work alongside individuals that were passionate about nature and scientific investigation of the surrounding river, stream and lake ecosystems and this defined my career progression focus.

I commenced my first contract with the Maine Institute on the assessment of the ecological impact of forestry clear-felling on western peatlands, and I decided to develop this into a research masters project. I was encouraged by colleagues and managers in the Marine Institute and supervisors in Environments Science, Department of Microbiology in NUI Galway.

I continued to work with the Marine Institute as part of the Marine Climate Change Team, based in Newport. During this time, I supported ongoing automatic water quality monitoring to assess ecosystem changes. I also over saw the implementation of the Furnace profiling winch automatic water quality monitoring station on Lough Furnace. This monitoring buoy is still fully functional and data collected from the buoy has formed part of numerous publications and is part of the Burrishoole LTER (long term ecological research) dataset.

From there, I commenced my PhD with Professor Eleanor Jennings in Dundalk Institute of Technology and I was based at the Newport Research Facility. This work focused on allochthonous and autochthonous carbon biogeochemistry analyses and modelling. It was during this time that I became actively involved in the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON www.gleon.org) where I collaborated and conducted international lake research and became Chair of the Graduate Student Association. I continue to be involved in GLEON activities and research.

After my PhD, I commenced a part time Post Doctorate in water resource management with the National Federation of Group Water Schemes carrying out a risk assessment of drinking water sources and worked as an assistant lecturer in Dundalk Institute of Technology.

I moved back to the west coast and took up a position as a scientific researcher for the Department of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences in University College Cork as part of a multidisciplinary team focused on salmon and trout conservation, population genetics, ecology and evolution based working with Professor Philip McGinnity (http://fisheye.ucc.ie).

In 2020, I commenced my current position as a Scientific and Technical Officer for the HYDRO-Fish project with the Marine Institute.

What are your interests and passions?
I am a bit of a beach/shore walker, sea swimmer and I enjoy island hopping during the summer months. I am an active member of Clean Coasts and volunteer locally in the Westport/Newport.

What is the best thing about working in the Marine Institute? What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the diversity and seasonality of my work routines, I enjoy contributing to the long term monitoring of ecosystems and transferring knowledge to the next generation through PhD student and bursary mentorship. I also enjoy the endless support, encouragement and teamwork provided by colleagues and friends at the Newport Research Facility.

What is something you think everyone should know about the ocean?
Our oceans are a fragile ecosystem and we all have a role to play in taking care of our oceans and the life in the oceans.

ENDS