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Vanessa Pirotta is a marine biologist, science communicator and woman in STEM.

Photo credit: Australian Museum.

Photo credit: Australian Museum.


Vanessa’s latest interview with ABC television discussing her global shipping research:


Summary of research

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD):

Vanessa’s focus over the last few years has been cetaceans, which is a collective term for whales, dolphins and porpoises. Vanessa has investigated threats for cetaceans around the world and applied theoretical frameworks to change our thinking on how we manage human activities in the ocean.

Vanessa’s most well-known research is the use of drones to collect whale snot for an assessment of whale health. Vanessa is also a big advocate for citizen science to assist scientists for wildlife conservation.

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Master of Research (MRes):

Vanessa’s master of research looked at the use of whale alarms (small sound devices) to try and prevent whale entanglement in fishing gear.

This work was conducted off Sydney, where Vanessa learnt how to become a whale surveyor using a theodolite. This is a very precise machine placed on top of a tripod and connected to a computer using Pythagoras theorem (yes, high school math is important). Vanessa used it to track whale movements in the ocean. 

Bachelor of Science (BSc):

Vanessa studied Zoology and Evolution and Ecology at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

Perks of the job:

Vanessa’s research has taken her to some wonderful places around the world including Tonga, Antarctica and most recently Madagascar.

Vanessa at the bottom of the planet

Vanessa at the bottom of the planet

Vanessa at the top of Tonga

Vanessa at the top of Tonga

Vanessa is also a passionate science communicator:

We need more women scientists to put their stories out there so girls can see what they can be when they grow up, and boys can see girls in these jobs, too.
— Nicole Small, president of the Lyda Hill Foundation, Nature Article

Watch Vanessa tell you all about whale snot:

Vanessa’s whale snot collection research explained in 60 seconds. This was filmed for the international BBC Earth presenter search.

 

Follow Vanessa on social media:

Vanessa’s latest tweets: 

And on Instagram....

The important stuff.

Drone information: 

All drone footage collected under NSW National Parks & Wildlife Services scientific licence 101743. Animal ethics obtained via Macquarie University. Licensed Civil Aviation Safety Authority drone pilots used.  

A BIG thank you to the following:

Whale snot drone collection thanks to Heliguy Scientific. Southern right whale drone footage thanks to SkyCam Media. Underwater whale footage thanks to Emerald Films and SeaLight Pictures. Thank you Joanne Stephan for the Macquarie University lab video. Thank you SkyCam Media and Australian Aerial Imagery for their assistance filming the BBC Presenter Search video. 

Website development- thank you to Cath from the wonderful Catfish Creative!