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The Deep Blue Sea: Oceanography role models

Oceanography (say oh-shun-og-raffy) is the study of the oceans. It’s the currents, tides, waves and even how humans might be affecting the oceans. You are just as likely to find one of our oceanographers on a boat as in a lab!


Clare Johnson, Oceanographer, Scottish Association for Marine Science, standing next to diving equipment

Name: Dr Clare Johnson.

Job: Oceanographer, Scottish Association for Marine Science.

Hobbies: Walking my dog, art and watching ice hockey.

How did you get to where you are now?
I studied environmental science at university and chose lots of oceanography modules, I hadn’t done maths or physics A-level so had to work harder to understand. I then did a PhD in physical oceanography researching how water in the Atlantic moves and mixes.

What inspired you to choose your job?
In my first year of university, I discovered how fun it is putting instruments off boats and finding out what is happening beneath the surface of the water. The ocean is so important for climate and life on earth.

Is your job hard or dangerous or fun?
A bit of each! It’s fun learning stuff and plotting up new data, but it’s also sometimes hard when things don’t go to plan. Working at sea is a more dangerous environment than being on land as there are heavy things being lifted and wires under tension. It’s hard work but also fun!

Jessica Savage, PhD Researcher in Marine Science on a beach smiling

Name: Jessica Savage.

Job: PhD Researcher in Marine Science – studying and doing new research for a university.

What three words would you use to describe yourself? Enthusiastic, determined, friendly.

How did you get to where you are now?
I always chose the subjects at school that I enjoyed the most. This led me to study mathematics, physics and German at university, followed by a master’s in tropical biology. I then took the time to decide whether I really wanted to work in science, by stepping away from it and working in a different job for a few years. I’m glad I did, because I’m now working on a project that I’m really passionate about – investigating the origins of plastic pollution in the ocean and the impacts it can have on manta rays.

What inspired you to choose your job?
I’ve always loved learning, science in general and the ocean. In the last few years, I’ve also become particularly interested in plastic pollution, and being more sustainable in my own life. My job is the perfect combination of what I’m passionate about. I can keep learning, while helping to make a difference to the planet.

What are the people you work with like?
The people I work with are very inspiring. We all have the common goal of reducing plastic pollution, which means we work very well as a team. I also work with other PhD students, who study different things, which makes it a very fun environment.

IOP oceanography role models sticker showing a wave above the sea