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Monique Ladds

Monique uses statistics to make important decisions about how to monitor and look after marine protected areas.

Monique LaddsWhat do you do on an average work day?

No day is the same as any other!

Some days I am out conducting experiments or fieldwork, other days I spend analysing the data that we have collected. 

I often have meetings with my colleagues and stakeholders to talk about important findings and how to communicate them with the wider community.

What did you study at high school? After high school?

At high school I studied maths, English and psychology, because I wanted to be a psychologist.

Was your study directly related to what you do now?

All of the study I have done helps me do what I do now. This is because biology and ecology are complicated and benefit greatly from a range of knowledge. 

The most important subject I studied was mathematics and statistics. Without these, I would not be able to study or understand biology.

What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about career choices right now?

Remember that it is ok to change your mind. There are so many options available to you that it is ok to try different things. 

The future is data, so keep in mind that even if you do want to be a marine biologist, you need to know how to handle and analyse data, so if you choose this route, make sure to complement your biology training with statistics training.

Monique petting a sea lion

What are some of your career highlights so far?

As a part of my PhD I was lucky enough to be invited to work in Canada with Steller sea lions.

Here, we did behaviour experiments with trained Steller sea lions, where we attached a GoPro to their harness and filmed them swimming underwater. We used this data to count how many strokes they use while diving, which can tell us about how much energy they use.

Why do you believe engaging in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is important to New Zealand?

All New Zealanders should engage with STEM so that we can encourage and promote innovation. Without the ongoing research conducted by STEM researchers, we would know far less our incredible planet. The more understanding we have, the more improvements we can make to the world around us. 

Also, just having the knowledge is wonderful - like, did you know that an elephant seal can hold its breath for over 2 hours and swim to 1000m below the oceans surface?

Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?

Without women in STEM we cannot gather all of the world views that are so important to making new scientific discoveries.

We want to have everyone represented so that we can make the best decisions for everyone, but also so that we can incorporate individuals unique ideas into our science.

Monique with a sea lion wearing a GoPro

Monique is a marine technical adviser who uses statistics to make important decisions about how to monitor and look after marine protected areas.

This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.

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