Febraury 11th is International Day of Women and Girls in Science & we want to celebrate our amazing female staff & volunteers!
I feel very honoured to be able to represent women in science and am very fortunate for the role I get to play in helping conservation through being ORCA’s Science Officer.
Ever since I was young I always had a strong passion for cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and a constant desire to understand more about their lives. That coupled with my love of data analysis gives me the perfect opportunity to utilise ORCA’s data, collected by a group of dedicated volunteers, to ultimately understand these animals better and use this to help conservation efforts.
I started working as Science Officer in September 2019, however, my journey with ORCA began in 2013, where I completed the Marine Mammal Surveyor course and learnt how to identify cetaceans and record information on their behaviour and where they were spotted.
My journey between completing the Marine Mammal Surveyor course in 2013 and becoming ORCA’s Science Officer has been an exciting and rewarding adventure. I have completed an undergraduate and Masters degree in Marine Biology at the University of Southampton and the University of Plymouth, to further my knowledge of the marine environment, cetaceans and complex data analysis. Amongst this, I have also completed internships in the UK, Canada and in Hawaii, focusing on boat and land-based cetacean research. All of this experience provided a pivotal step in getting me to where I am today.
Since starting at ORCA, I have had amazing experiences working within the team, meeting and speaking with our very dedicated and passionate volunteers, and getting to explore the ORCA dataset. My role began with finalising the 2019 State of European Cetaceans Report (SOEC), compiling our recent years of data into a database and producing summary maps of the 2019 survey season.
For the remainder of 2020, the primary focus of my role will entail designing and completing an in-house ORCA project which will focus on using data collected by our ORCA volunteers to complete complex data analysis to help support cetacean conservation. This project – with the aim of becoming a peer-reviewed publication – will strategically target a specific region or species to provide the evidence needed to aid cetacean conservation.
For my entire life I have wanted to work in cetacean conservation, using data analysis to support this. I am incredible fortunate to be in the position where I am now able to do this, alongside a hardworking team of staff and volunteers. I love my job and I would encourage anyone out there to follow their dreams. Working in science is incredibly rewarding and it is an amazing feeling to know that you are a part of the process of helping to protect these animals – and that is one of the reasons why publications are so important to us as it provides the evidence for this. I love the complexity of working with data and knowing that every day is different and every day brings about its own data challenges – but that is what makes science so fascinating and fulfilling! To add to that, knowing that everything I am doing is to help these whales and dolphins that have provided me with so much joy over my life, is immensely gratifying!