Women in Science – Julia Calderwood

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.

Julia Calderwood, Marine InstituteJulia Calderwood
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Fisheries, Ecosystems and Advisory Services
Marine Institute

What is your current role at the Marine Institute and what's involved in your daily work?
I am Postdoctoral Researcher working on the Science Foundation Ireland funded IFISH project. This project aims to explore and develop information sharing networks in commercial Irish fisheries to assist in reducing unwanted catches. My work is really varied and includes conducting interviews with industry stakeholders to explore their experiences with reducing discards when fishing, analysing large fisheries datasets to explore spatial and temporal patterns in fishing and fleet behaviour, developing app technology to display fisheries hotspots and collaborating with industry to develop these technologies as well as writing reports and scientific journal articles communicating results from my work and presenting this work at international meetings and conferences.

What did you study and why?
I originally studied a degree in geography. It was my favourite subject at school because of the variety of topics covered, from urban development to coastal processes and climate change science, so I decided to continue to study what I enjoyed at university. After my degree, I took time out to travel and volunteered for the Bahamas National Trust, and conducted underwater SCUBA surveys to help inform marine protected area development. I then returned to university to learn more about the underwater world and studied for a Masters in Marine Ecology and Environmental Management. I then went on to work as a Marine Data Scientist at the British Oceanographic Data Centre before returning to academia to complete a PhD investigating how to improve yields in mussel aquaculture. From there, I moved to the Marine Institute, previously working on the Horizon2020 DiscardLess project, investigating the impacts of the Landing Obligation on Irish fisheries, before moving on to the IFISH project. I've had a fairly varied career path before working in the realm of fisheries science.

What are your interests and passions?
I am a big foodie and love cooking and baking and exploring cuisines from all around the world. When I'm not in the kitchen, I love being out by the ocean. I'm very fortunate to live right be the sea, which has been especially important to me during the restrictions we have experienced in the last year. Luckily I have been able to carry on sea swimming, which I enjoy all year round, although my winter dips are fairly brief!

What is the best thing about working in the Marine Institute? What do you enjoy most about your job?
What I enjoy most about my job and working at the Marine Institute is the variety of different people I get to work with. I really enjoy the opportunity to work with and learn from everyone I work with - from fishermen and industry stakeholders, the scientists at the Marine Institute, the crew who work on our research vessels, right through to the international colleagues I have been fortunate enough to meet and collaborate with as part of my work.

What is something you think everyone should know about the ocean?
I'm fascinated by so many of the weird and wonderful creatures that live in our oceans. I've just recently finished reading Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Act of Growing a Backbone by Juli Berwald, so right now my head is full of amazing facts about jellyfish. Did you know that the stinging cell of a jellyfish, when activated, explodes out of its capsule with a g-force of 5 million (or 5 million times the acceleration of gravity), which makes it the fastest known motion in the animal kingdom!