What do you do?
I have always felt the best way to improve our oceans is through more effective communication. Without it, misconceptions about the oceans are created. This can hinder conservation efforts due to a lack of public interest and subsequently, a lack of funding. That’s why I have created an Instagram account - @ideastosavethesea - which is dedicated to unpicking these ocean misconceptions.
Each week, I publish a series of posts around a different theme or topic, such as mangroves, invasive species, or sharks! Every week, I post one misconception, between one or two posts about why the organism or habitat is so vital to our oceans and why we need to protect them, and/or one post about how we can help protect the incredible organism and finally, most weeks, I post information about different organizations that are doing amazing things for the ocean. I like to collect my content by going directly to the source, namely the people or organizations that work with the theme of the week. As a result, I have spoken to some of the most amazing and inspiring people in marine conservation, all of whom share the same desire to debunk ocean misconceptions as myself.
Why did you choose this field?
I was inspired to become a marine biologist at the age of 10 by my school librarian, Mr. K. Living in a landlocked country, we didn’t learn much about the ocean; the only time I was really taught about it was in Grade 4 when we had a whole unit on it. During our lesson learning about marine pollution, Mr. K came to our class to tell us about his experience as a marine biologist in Canada helping with a cleanup operation of a huge oil spill. Because he was a person everyone adored and had helped to save so much marine life after the oil spill, it not only sparked my interest in marine biology but also inspired me to pursue a career in marine conservation.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
It is tough to pick just one achievement because each step felt impossible at one point, until I achieved it! But if I have to choose one, I would say the publication of the first scientific paper that I co-authored.
I am dyslexic. I found school really tough at times and my teachers wanted to hold me back a year. But my parents kept pushing me - and I graduated with a decent grade and got into my dream university, Southampton University! And I loved it; everything was so interesting to me and I felt like I was always discovering something new. Incredibly, I left university with a First Class Masters degree - I never thought that was possible after being told I wasn't "good enough" by my old high school teachers.
After I left University, I was lucky enough to join a research project with the University of Basel and my name now appears on one of the papers I worked on with them. When I was in high school, I could have never dreamed that I would be a published scientific researcher - and now I am working on my second one!
Why do you love working in STEM?
I am deeply passionate about marine conservation. Our water systems and marine life are integral to every aspect of living life on this planet, from climate regulation all the way to providing food resources. I love talking to the public about the oceans and life within them. For me, it's how engaged and passionate people can be that reignites my desire to help protect and save our oceans!
Best advice for next generation?
Reach out to your STEM idols. They are passionate about their subject or field of research too and want to share that knowledge!
Don’t be afraid to ask top researchers - or in my case, marine conservationists - for work experience or information on where to find it, because more often than not they will help you out, or will try to in the very least.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
“Through adversity to the stars.”