What is your current Job Title or Role?
Biologist / Diver
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Aim high. Think about what you want and what you need to achieve to do it and then go for it!
How did you get to where you are today?
I was passionate about marine biology from a young age and learnt to dive at 14 (as soon as I was allowed to!). I then visited Tenerife for the first time at 16 to help with a whale and dolphin project (with my Dad!). I moved from Teesside to Plymouth for university and then volunteered with the husbandry (animal care) department at the aquarium from my second year at uni and pretty much full time after I had graduated, before being offered a job (pester power!). I was actually late for the open day at university because I was in the NMA watching the shark feed - I now look after that exhibit (it's changed a bit since then mind...) I have worked in aquariums in two other countries (Grand Cayman and Ireland) and spent a month volunteering in one of the world's best aquariums in Monterey Bay, before returning to the NMA, which is where my heart is.
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
I look after the animals so firstly I need to check they are healthy and all the life support systems are running correctly. Then, the day is spent doing a variety of tasks such as cleaning and maintaining tanks, food preparation, water chemistry, diving to feed the animals and clean the windows etc (basically a fishy housekeeper!) I am also the aquarium liaison for the BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) Animal Behaviour and Training working group.
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
When I was in secondary school (or possibly even primary school) my parents mentioned you can make marine biology a career which sounded amazing. I basically just worked towards that and ended up working many people's dream job!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The husbandry team is great and, although we can spend a lot of time working independantly, we really pull together when we need to. The aquarium as a whole has a lot of fantastic people and it is heading in an exciting direction. Also, not many people get to go to work and dive with sharks!
What do you like to do outside work?
I have a young son who recently started school and he loves the aquarium. He is getting very good at identifying the different animals so brainwashing, yep, definitely brainwashing! We also have some land next to the Tamar as a family and have planted a vineyard down which keeps me out of mischief.