Hello, my name is Rose Boardman. My fascination with the ocean definitely started at a young age. Growing up just a stone’s throw away from the Jurassic coastline in Dorset, UK. I have spent many days exploring the underwater world.
I have a degree in Marine Geography from Cardiff University, and I’m currently studying for a Masters of research in Ocean Science at Southampton University. My next goal is to become a PhD student. My interests lie in species behaviour, habitat preference among species and predator-prey interactions. My goals for the future are to become a researcher and eventually I would like to go into lecturing – I still have a long journey ahead of me though.
Briefly describe your current work and your research.
I am an Ocean science masters student at the National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) in Southampton. I’m currently working with Dr. Clive Truman in his stable isotope lab. My project is using stable isotope analysis of eye lenses to explore the life history of individual Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thynnus thynnus).
Historically, T.thynnus migrated to UK waters ranging throughout the Celtic and North Sea, where they supported important commercial and sports fisheries. The species disappeared from the region in the early 1960s and is now still extremely rare. Throughout the last 5 years, they have been observed more frequently in UK waters, particularly during the late summer, autumn and winter as they move into coastal areas. To date, there has been no direct evidence of bluefin reproducing in these areas. Their reappearance raises many ecological questions about their migration and life history.
Although, electronic tagging studies have provided crucial information on the migration patterns of T.thynnus, very little information on individual life history has been explored. In recent years, a number of natural chemical tags, such as stable isotopes have allowed scientists to assess the migratory history of captured individuals. Eye lenses are particularly useful as recordings of stable isotope histories in fish. They are metabolically inert and undergo no remodelling. Therefore, the chemical content of lens tissue at the time of formation is preserved, offering an ontogenetic record.
What do you love the most about your job?
The ocean is incredibly fascinating, and you can learn something new every day. There is so much undiscovered life and my passion for the ocean is definitely fuelled by this. I love conducting research, exploring and learning about all the weird and wonderful creatures that call the ocean their home. I also love engaging with others and sharing my passion for the ocean. I currently run an online ocean inspired blog (ocean dreaming) which I love doing in my spare time.
How difficult was it to get where you are today?
My journey so far hasn’t been the easiest (however it has pushed me to where I am today!)
I was born prematurely at 26 weeks and suffered some pretty nasty brain damage and as a result of this, I have cerebral palsy. I missed tons of school when I was younger, due to hospital admissions and I’m considered below average in reading, writing, spelling etc.
Despite this last year I graduated with a first class honours in Marine Geography from Cardiff University and was fortunate enough to complete a placement year at the renowned Bimini Biological Field station (aka Sharklab) and I’m now 1 of 9 studying for my masters of research. I hope as a woman in science (plus one with a disability) I can inspire others and show that passion and hard work will eventually pay off. It’s also really important to just embrace your weaknesses and laugh at them. Life is way more interesting when you have to work for something anyway!
“Perseverance is a great substitute for talent” – Steve Martin
What was the biggest obstacle in your way before your career reached where it is today?
The thought of speaking to my supervisor or approaching people at a conference would terrify me. I set my self a goal at the beginning of the year to attend more conferences and to approach at least one person whose research I found interesting. So far it has been very successful. It might not come naturally to you at first, but practice is key. It’s also really important to realise that most of these people were in your position once and 99% of the time they are really friendly and willing to chat with you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and even if you end up chatting about the weather trust me it’s better than saying nothing!
What are you looking forward to the most in the future of marine science?
I think it’s so great that people are becoming more aware and interested in taking care of our planet. For example the fight against plastic, it’s amazing to see so many people involved especially those with a non-scientific background. I really hope we can make a lasting difference and bring some positive change to our futures.
How do you think we can get more women involved within marine science?
I believe the future is bright for aspiring female scientists but I think there is still a long way to go. I think it’s really important to engage girls early on in their life, and expose them to all the amazing opportunities they have. I think women already in the industry need to act as role models and speak with girls directly at schools and events, along with establishing a public online platform.
What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring female marine scientists?
Get as much experience as you can and always keep busy – read, stay up to date with environmental news, attend conferences and network.
In one sentence, why do you think a career within marine science is a great career option?
Because you learn something new every day and who doesn’t love swimming with all the fish!
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I would like to give a massive thank you to Rose Boardman for participating in this interview. I cannot wait to share more of your stories and I hope that you find inspiration in learning of other journeys within marine science.
Are you a woman working within marine science? Would you like to share your story and inspire the next generation? Please get in contact with me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved with the Leading Women in Marine Science Interview Series.
Disclaimer: All responses to the interview questions and the biography belong to Rose Boardman. All photographs have been used with the permission of Rose Boardman. Credit for the photographs (in order) are Charlotte Sams Photography, Rose Boardman, Félicie Dhellemmes and Ben Leeson.