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.
Post-Doctoral Researcher, Fisheries and Ecosystems Advisory Services
What is your current role at the Marine Institute and what's involved in your daily work?
My role in the Marine Institute is as a Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries Management Team. Debbi was also the Integrated Ecosystem Assessment Steering Group Chair for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for 2019 - 2021. My day-to-day work largely involves desk research and a lot of meetings! My research involves working with scientists and stakeholders to gain a better understanding of our ecosystems, and how we can manage them better through innovative fisheries management systems, and approaches that take into account all aspects of the ecosystem – including the human side!
What did you study and why?
My career path has been somewhat non-linear. I did my undergraduate degree in Zoology, and my PhD research in freshwater ecology and genetics of pike (a freshwater fish), both in University College Dublin. However, between my Bachelors of Science and PhD, I worked in retail (as I had done during my undergrad degree) for a number of years, as the recession had hit hard and funding was thin on the ground. After completing my PhD in 2014, I had a brief stint working on genetics of small land mammals at Bournemouth University, before I began my career in the Marine Institute in 2015.
What are your interests and passions?
I have so many! Of course, my main interest is the sea – I decided when I was 12 that I wanted to be a 'marine biologist' and am privileged to be able to fulfil that dream, even if my notions at 12 might have involved more beaches and tropical seas! For the last 12 years I have lived within a 10-minute walk of the coast, and I don't think I could swap it for anything, it brings me a sense of calm and grounding, which has been particularly important in this last tumultuous year. I also love hiking, camping, upcycling furniture, DIY, sewing, crafting (which often has a marine theme!) and spending time with my husband and two dogs, Rook and Ollie.
What is the best thing about working in the Marine Institute? What do you enjoy most about your job?
For me there are two best things. The first is the people; we have such a great team that are taking on such interesting projects and pushing the barriers with their research and enthusiasm. Every day we challenge and learn from each other.
The second is the opportunity to make a difference – the work that we do feeds into policy, management and advice related to our seas and oceans, helping to make the management more sustainable so the benefits can be enjoyed by future generations.
What is something you think everyone should know about the ocean?
The total number of living fish species—currently about 34,300— is greater than the total of all other vertebrate species (amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals) combined.
Bonus follow-up fact: It is estimated that more than 90% of the species that exist under the sea have yet to be discovered, because so little of the oceans has been explored. So just imagine how many species are really out there!