I was brought up on a farm near Mangaweka. My mother taught biology at Taihape College, and Dad was interested in all aspects of natural history, so I had science in me from early on. Although inclined to poke around looking for plants and animals, I got attracted by the order of mathematics and the big picture questions, and went on to study theoretical physics. My PhD was old-fashioned pencil and paper, screes of algebra and plenty of time in the library. Eventually the life sciences drew me back, and I worked at NIWA as an oceanographer. I was fascinated by the interplay between physical process in the upper ocean and the growth of plankton, and studied how spatial pattern formed in the plankton. Satellite imagery shows swirls and filaments characteristic of stirred fluids, and it seemed interesting to understand how they were maintained.
Currently I have moved away from theoretical into applied science, and am working on documenting the catch of seabirds in commercial fisheries. This is collaborative work that engages a wide range of people, from fishers and fisheries managers, to other scientists, to people working in NGOs. We are doing the statistical analysis that is needed to help understanding the extent of bycatch issues, and to help do something about them.