I was born in Palm Springs, California, and raised in a small town called Valley of Enchantment in the mountains outside Los Angeles. I did not finish high school, but later returned as a mature-aged student to study marine biology through the American equivalent of TAFE. I eventually earned a PhD from James Cook University in Queensland in 2005. I truly understand how life circumstance gets in the way, and I also truly get how important it is to have opportunities and second chances.
My high level of productivity throughout my scientific career has included three best-selling books and around a hundred peer reviewed scientific papers and industry reports, two TEDx talks plus countless others from conference seminars to community presentations to keynote addresses, and I've discovered more than 200 new species (mostly jellyfish, plus one dolphin!).
And in 2022, I returned to University for another PhD! After 30 years studying science, I am now studying scientists! My topic, the role of scientists in environmental conflict, is quite possibly the most riveting question of my entire research life.
In January 2024, I was named as one of the Top 100 Australian Scientists by the Science Show on ABC Radio National! Oh gosh, what an honour: there are no words to fully express how blushingly proud I am!
A Scientist with Heart
I’m not what you’d call normal. I have autism. I’m also highly functional and successful. I worked as a research scientist at CSIRO for more than seven years, and I was the head of science at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Launceston. I also spent 18 months living in Tasmania’s homeless shelter system, and now I own my own home. I ask for neither your sympathy nor a pat on the back: I ask for you to give some thought to what inclusion means in our society, and whether our actions match our values.
ABOUT SALMON --
For too many years, I was muzzled by my employer from saying what needed to be said about salmon farming. Now I am no longer muzzled and I am fiercely independent. For a deep dive into the science, have a look at the Salmon Reform Alliance website.