Bronwyn Gillanders

Role: I am currently a Professor in Marine Biology at the University of Adelaide. My role involves teaching undergraduate and mentoring postgraduate students, as well as research on a variety of topics and projects. I’ve also been the President of the Australian Society for Fish Biology and am the current President for the World Council of Fisheries Societies.

When and how did you get involved in the seafood industry?

I’ve always had an interest in nature having grown up on a farm. I guess it was during my undergraduate studies in science that I developed an interest in marine biology and following a SCUBA diving course naturally veered towards fish biology and fisheries – that was over 30 years ago! After finishing my PhD I had an opportunity to be involved in an FRDC funded research project where I was able to develop links with the seafood industry. I’ve really just continued my involvement since then.

What is your biggest reward working in the seafood industry?

I really work broadly across the marine and freshwater environmental space. Nowadays I think it’s as much about managing all sectors (including the people) as thinking about a single sector. I enjoy the challenges of bringing everything together especially in an area like Spencer Gulf where you have so many interests from community to fisheries and aquaculture to mining and port development and then there’s conservation issues as well. I was ecstatic to recently receive a Winnovation award in the Regional, Rural and Remote category for our work in Spencer Gulf. On the teaching front – it’s fantastic being able to train the next generation of researchers and I love seeing their excitement at new discoveries.

Would you encourage women to follow a career in marine biology?

Definitely! There’s just so many career options available – I started out being able to SCUBA dive and head out on boats regularly. As I progressed in seniority I reduced the amount of field work I was doing but still love getting out there in the field once in a while to remind me of why I entered this field. I look at the flexibility and diversity of career paths that the undergraduate and postgraduate students who I’ve taught and mentored have taken, and wonder what other field would provide so many options! I’m a strong believer in supporting women – it’s important to see role models and I’d like to think we are heading away from some of the unconscious biases of the past. It’s great to see that there are many opportunities for women in marine biology today.