Women in Science – Gráinne Ryan

To celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science, 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.

Grainne Ryan, Marine InstituteGráinne Ryan
Fisheries Laboratory Analyst at Dunmore East, Waterford
Marine Institute

What is your current role at the Marine Institute and what's involved in your daily work?
I am a Port-based Fisheries Laboratory Analyst in Dunmore East, Waterford. I collect biological data from pelagic, demersal, Nephrops norvegicus (Dublin Bay prawns) and shellfish species to fulfil our Data Collection Multi-Annual Programme on fish stock assessment and advice for the Department of Food, Agriculture and the Marine and the International Council of the Seas (ICES). My role involves visiting fish processors and collecting fish samples directly from fisherman on a weekly basis. I record and process data such as lengths, weights, sex and maturity, and remove otoliths (ear bones) for ageing. I also age black sole and participate on numerous research surveys on board the RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager.

What did you study and why?
I studied Aquaculture, and Freshwater and Marine Science in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). I grew up by the sea, and spent every day of the summer holidays on the beach (when the Irish weather allowed of course), so I think I was naturally drawn to study marine science. I had the opportunity to take up a bursary position with the Marine Institute while at GMIT 14 years ago. This led to doing a stagiaire, which gave me the practical and sea going experience I needed to secure my current role after several years of living abroad.

What are your interests and passions?
I am a very active outdoors type of person, and am blessed to live on the Hook Peninsula in Wexford so I'm always walking and running around the Lighthouse. In 2017, a friend and I started up a local sea swimming club in Slade, Co Wexford, which means I'm usually either swimming, kayaking, or organising tea on the beach after our swims.

What is the best thing about working in the Marine Institute? What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love how my job is very different from the norm and each week brings something new. The people I meet are always fascinated by the work we do at the Marine Institute, so are always asking questions. This is the same for me, when I meet with work colleagues or other staff from different sections at the Marine Institute, I'm always excited to learn about new research we are involved in. The people I interact with through my job, is what makes it for me - work colleagues, fishermen and processors, P&O Maritime crew on the research vessels, and the harbour crew in Dunmore East.

What is something you think everyone should know about the ocean?
I think people shouldn't just think of the ocean as a mass body of water, but reflect on how it connects us to the whole world - especially now that everything and everyone seem so far away and out of reach at the minute. We are an island nation, and lucky enough to never be too far away from the ocean. The ocean is somewhere that can be explored and enjoyed in so many different ways, by everyone young and old. I'd tell people to get out and get exploring their sandy and rocky shores, or jump straight into the ocean to clear the mind, help the body and reconnect to it.