Women in science down south

Women in science down south

Video transcript

Dr Louise Emmerson — Seabird ecologist Australian Antarctic Division

Today I’m lucky enough to be down in Antarctica at Magnetic Island near the Adélie penguin breeding colony down in East Antarctica near Australia’s Davis research station. In many ways I’ve got the best of both worlds because I can come into the field and study the seabirds and then I can go and represent the Australian Government at meetings and make a difference for conservation for the birds.

To start with I studied seaweed then I started studying desert ecosystems and now I study Antarctic seabirds. My recommendation is that you follow your passion, you find the things that you’re interested in and you work on those. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be challenging, but that’s also the benefit of life. I love being in the field, I love working with the penguins and the other seabirds.

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Three Adélie penguins all looking the same way
Adélie penguins in sync! (Photo: Peter Layt)
Seabird ecologist Dr Louise Emmerson

Imagine if your office was 10,000 squawking penguins and their fluffy chicks?

That’s the reality for Australian Antarctic Division seabird ecologist Dr Louise Emmerson, who is currently based at Australia’s Davis research station studying Adélie penguins.

On the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Dr Emmerson, says a career in science is challenging but incredibly fulfilling.

“From the time I was a small child I had an unusually keen interest in the world around me and the animals that lived there,” Dr Emmerson said.

“After years at university, a career in science became a reality and I started studying seaweed, then moved on to desert ecosystems and now sea birds.

“My recommendation is to find the things you are interested in and follow your passion.”

Dr Emmerson has been working with the Australian Antarctic Division for 17 years on fisheries management issues in relation to Antarctic breeding seabirds.

She also studies how Adélie penguin populations and sea bird foraging behaviours respond to environmental variation and change.

“I really have the best of both worlds, I spend time studying sea birds in the field and then go and represent the Australian government at meetings to make a difference for conservation of the birds.”