Celebrating International Day of Women and Science


/ 11 Feb 2022

Name: Julia Chandler

Q: What is your role at GBRMPA and how long have you worked here?  

I am currently the Director for Environmental Assessment and Protection. I’ve been in this section, including assessment roles since Jan 2015.  I joined the Authority in 2008 when I moved back to Townsville from Manchester, England, originally in the Natural Sciences Team (now known as the Science for Management team).

Q: How did you come to work in science? 

Biology and chemistry were my favourite classes at high school, so I did an applied science degree in Natural Resource Management at James Cook University. My Honours project looked at dryland eucalypt dieback in the Rangelands – not a fish or coral in sight!

Q: What advice do you have for girls considering a career in science?

Science is a hugely diverse field and needs all personalities, from good communicators, courageous innovators, detailed analysts, and caring advocates to name a few. So, my advice is don’t be pigeon-holed, follow your passion your way.

Q: What inspires you most about your work?

The people! I work with passionate people both within and outside the Authority who inspire me to do better each day, achieve more together than alone, and stay hopeful and innovative, no matter how wicked the problem…


Sally from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Sally Harman

Name: Sally Harman

Q: What is your role at GBRMPA and how long have you worked here? 

I am the Assistant Director of Planning – my team and I are marine spatial planners using a variety of management tools to achieve ecologically sustainable use of the Marine Park. This means we manage human use to ensure impacts to marine park values are minimised. Wow - it's been 20 fantastic years.

Q: How did you come to work in science? 

As a child I always loved the outdoors and being in nature, particularly on the water. At University I studied Applied Science Biology and volunteered my time with marine turtle research and water quality monitoring. After graduating I worked in land-based natural resource management before getting a graduate role at the Reef Authority.

Q: What advice do you have for girls considering a career in science? 

Science is such a diverse field- it is multidisciplinary, and you can choose either academic or applied paths. Volunteer your time in the field that interests you and be brave and speak to people working in the area you might want to work to learn more about their job and how they got started.

Q: What inspires you most about your work? 

Always learning - each day is never the same! I especially love speaking to people that use the Marine Park every day and to Traditional Owners to absorb their stories and understand cultural connections to Sea Country.


Name: Kirstin Dobbs

Q: What is your role at GBRMPA and how long have you worked here?

This is my 24th year at GBRMPA. I have worked in a variety of roles across the organisation, starting as an APS4 Graduate Project Officer in the then Species Conservation Unit. After becoming a Director, I have had many roles leading teams involving the development of the 2009 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, science coordination, Parliamentary/Ministerial, the permission system and my current role as Director of Reef HQ & Property Services.

Q: How did you come to work in science?

Growing up in the Catskill Mountain area of New York State, I always enjoyed the outdoors and had a love of wildlife. During my undergraduate days I sought work experience opportunities that would result in applying science to management, including working at a striped bass hatchery that was restocking the species into the Hudson River, tracking eastern mud turtles to understand if a nearby development was going to impact their nesting range, assessing causes of death in stranded dolphins and turtles along the Texas coast and testing effluent waters from Long Island and New York City companies to understand how toxic they were. These experiences led me to receiving a Fulbright Fellowship upon graduation and to Australia where I conducted my PhD research on the reproductive biology of hawksbill turtles.

Q: What advice do you have for girls considering a career in science?

Don’t be afraid to do things outside of your comfort zone – it doesn’t mean you will do that work forever; however, it will broaden your horizons and skills. Seek out new opportunities even if you are unsure or don’t think you will like them. You never know where they will lead and it allows others to realise you are adaptable and able to undertake a broad range of roles.

Q: What inspires you most about your work?

Two things inspire me about my work: the dedication and passion of the staff I have been fortunate enough to work with and lead. And the ability to deliver real change that helps protect and conserve the Marine Park as well as supporting the communities that live along the Great Barrier Reef.


Chloe Schauble from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Chloe Schauble

Name: Chloe Schauble

Q: What is your role at GBRMPA and how long have you worked here? 

Assistant Director, Synthesis & Reporting. I’ve been at GBRMPA since 2010, doing a range of different roles. My current team and I make tools and documents that help people access, explore, understand, and use science and management data and other information.

Q: How did you come to work in science? 

I’ve always liked solving problems and finding out how things work. Add that to an interest in the natural world sparked by a childhood in the bush and it’s probably not surprising I ended up pursuing a science-based career.

Q: What advice do you have for girls considering a career in science? 

Stay open to discovering new types of science-related jobs. There are so many different roles where having science knowledge and skills is really valuable. Not all of them have science-y sounding words in their titles. Finally, never ask yourself “Can women do that kind of work?” – of course they can, and they’re great at it.

Q: What inspires you most about your work? 

I love taking ‘what we know’ and turning it into something useful. It’s even better when I get to create something beautiful as well as useful! I’m also inspired by the underpinning ‘why’ of my work – looking after the Great Barrier Reef and its people. All those things bring me joy and satisfaction.


Julie Spencer from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Julie Spencer

Name: Julie Spencer

Q: What is your role at GBRMPA and how long have you worked here?

I work within the Reef Authority’s Education team where I develop and deliver reef education programs for students of all ages and stages of learning. I also develop and create educational resources. Most of the programs that I develop, and deliver are linked to the Australian Science Curriculum.

I have worked at the Reef Authority for 24 years. For most of this time (23 years) I worked in Reef HQ Aquarium, the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef.  At Reef HQ Aquarium I delivered education programs to visiting school groups.  As part of the Reef Authority’s outreach education program, I have also delivered virtual education programs to audiences around the world using our videoconferencing technology.

Q: How did you come to work in science?  

I  did a Bachelor of Science degree at university and just after that I was fortunate enough to get a job working at Reef HQ Aquarium. I draw upon my background knowledge in science when talking to visitors and students about the Reef and when developing and delivering education programs.

Q: What advice do you have for girls considering a career in science?

There are so many career options that are linked to science, and you never know where your career will take you. My advice is to follow a career that you are passionate about and to do what you enjoy.  Also, to always be on the lookout for opportunities to learn and grow and to never stop learning.

Q: What inspires you most about your work?

I love sharing my passion and knowledge of the Reef with others.  My aim is to help people gain an appreciation and understanding of the Reef and what actions they can take to help look after it. Everyone can help to protect the Great Barrier Reef. All actions, even small ones, can make a difference.


Name: Karen Chong-Seng

Q: What is your role at GBRMPA and how long have you worked here?

I'm currently Project Manager - Data Analysis in the Science for Management section. I've been working in the data, Reef Health and Eye on the Reef space since 2017. I was also a casual Reef HQ diver before that.

Q: How did you come to work in science? 

I won an open water dive course when participating in an art competition in high school. As a result, I chose to do marine science at university.

Q: What advice do you have for girls considering a career in science? 

Come join us 😊

Q: What inspires you most about your work? 

I'm using my skills and knowledge to help improve decision-making that will hopefully have far reaching consequences for the health of reefs worldwide.


Michelle Dyer from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Michelle Dyer

Name: Michelle Dyer

Q: What is your role at GBRMPA and how long have you worked here?

Assistant Director Social Science in the Science for Management section. I started October 2018.

Q: How did you come to work in science?

I have always had an abiding interest in the different ways people live and understand the world and this drew me to the discipline of Anthropology. This is how I came to work in science – I wanted my work to be about travelling and living in other cultures and contributing in some way to making other people’s lives better. My path has been a combination of applied work and academic work – often intertwined.

Q: What advice do you have for girls considering a career in science?

Dare to dream big and don’t think that everyone else has all the answers. If you have a creative, inquiring mind you have a lot to offer to scientific endeavours.

Q: What inspires you most about your work?

I love the spirit of science – a state of perpetual inquiry – of always testing assumptions and conclusions. As a social scientist I am inspired by people – our endless diversity and creativity, which it is my job to explore and understand.