I am a marine biologist and communicator. I live with my family in Oban on the Scottish west coast. I enjoy being by the sea, up mountains, at dinner with friends, or inside stories.
I was born in Germany and came to the UK as a marine biology student – because there is a lot more sea around the UK than around Germany. What drives me in life is that I am an environmentalist. But I also really love stories and still live a lot in my head daydreaming. My ‘secret’ ambition in life is to invent a really good story. Otherwise I love being by the sea, spending time with friends, family and dogs, and I also really like my job and my team. I do not like housework or gardening, which is a problem as I am an adult and am meant to do these things a lot…
My pronouns are:
I love two things: people and the sea. Much of my life is trying to make them more compatible. I used to do research on climate gases but now focus on trying to make people care more about life in the ocean.
I work for an ocean research organisation where my job is to tell people what we do. That means I work with seven colleagues (who are also all friends) building and writing websites, podcasts, blogs, social media posts and news stories. We also create short films and organise events. My two favourite jobs so far were building an ocean explorer visitor centre and designing a Scottish tartan for ocean lovers. My next big project is to develop a learning centre for schools that will focus on the sea.
My Typical Day:
I am not a morning person and always get up at the very last moment possible. I forego breakfast and arrive at work still in need of a hairbrush. First thing in the morning is a good chin-wag with my colleagues planning everyone’s days and checking the cursed email. Then I might have to teach, or write a report, or attend a meeting. Sometimes I host visitors and give them a tour of our brilliant lab. Sometimes we work on a short film, or develop new products for our shop, or I am in our visitor centre telling tourists about the ocean. I usually have lunch in our beach cafe and weather permitting might go for a little walk to the neighbouring castle or along the beach. In the afternoon I usually have more meetings and develop ideas for projects – my creativity grows as the day goes by. I go home when I get hungry, usually around 6, then eat, walk the dogs and spend time with family and friends. Sometimes I work in the evenings – right now for example I have to write our annual report and don’t get enough time at work to focus on substantial pieces of work.
There is actually not really a ‘typical’ day. Sometimes I am away with work, for example at a conference (in the last month I was in Georgia and in Northern Ireland), or visiting a school or giving a talk to a community group. One of my favourite things to do is working with our filmmaker. Another part of my job is having to keep up to date with the latest scientific findings and so I often go to research seminars, read summaries of research reports and publications, or catch up with a colleague over a cuppa to find out what they have been up to, especially when they return from an exciting expedition.
What I'd do with the prize money:
I often have interns in my team, who are young people interested in developing their STEM communication skills and to experience life in a research institute. We don’t need these interns to do a specific job, and so there is no funding for them. That means the interns are normally self-funded. Having £500 available could support an intern who couldn’t self-fund their stay (travel, accommodation, food).
I went to a Steiner School in Germany. After school I spent a year in London perfecting my English language skills and then started studying biology and philosophy in Berlin. It was when Berlin was still a divided city and you couldn’t go where you wanted because of politics, so it was hard not be feel political and I explored a lot of political groups and was a Greenpeace activist. I was one of the young people standing on the wall when it fell ahead of German unification. I then moved to the UK for good to focus on marine biology. I studied at Bangor and also for a year with Heriot-Watt based on the Orkney islands. As I hadn’t focused on STEM subjects at school the first year at uni were a bit hard but perfectly manageable. I think being a good communicator helped a lot.
I have the German school leaving qualification (Abitur), with my major subjects at the time German and English, with biology and socials as minor subjects. I did really well at school with something like 860/900 points. I then did a Diploma in English as a Foreign or Second Language. I have a pre-diploma in Biology from Berlin, a BSc (Hons) Marine Science, an MSc in Marine Resource Development and Protection, and a PhD in marine biogeochemistry, researching the cycling of methane in coastal waters. I also have a Diploma in Translation and a City and Guilds qualification in adult education.
I worked in hospitality as a student and did a bit of dive training. I worked for a while in research in Plymouth at a marine science institute before following my then boyfriend (now husband) to Oban. I had a job developing the first online marine biology course for Glasgow Uni and then set up my own translation business for a while, but found it way too isolated. I really like people around me and I like to have a more creative job, I then got the job I am in now in 2001 and have loved nearly every in it. It has changed a lot and I have learnt so many new skills. In my team we have people who are trained journalists, marketeers, graphic designers, filmmakers and educators as well as a couple of us scientists. We need all these different skills to do our job as a team. I think that teamwork, enthusiasm and creativity are the most important characterises to be successful in my field.
My official title is ‘Head of Communications and Director, Ocean Explorer Centre’
Scottish Association for Marine Science – a partner of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
What did you want to be after you left school?
Were you ever in trouble at school?
not in a big way....
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
best-selling author or filmmaker
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
publishing a novel; living for a while in Greenland learning dog-sledging; taking a year out with my family travelling
Tell us a joke.
Nope - I'm German