Sophie analyses fisheries data and creates mathematical models that are used to set catch limits for fisheries, making fishing more sustainable in New Zealand and overseas.
What do you do on an average work day?
In an average day, I spend most of my time working on my computer doing data analyses and preparing presentations to explain what I have done.
I also develop new methods to investigate certain problems we might have.
I regularly have meetings with colleagues and clients where we review my work and that of others, and discuss what we will investigate next.
What did you study at school? And after high school?
At high school I studied maths, physics and chemistry. Because I was in high school in France, I also studied economics, literature, history and geography, biology.
After high school I studied maths, physics and chemistry. It included anything from statistics to quantum physics, fluid mechanics or crystallography.
I then did a PhD in analytical chemistry in a Marine Laboratory, looking at contaminants in fish.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
My studies were actually not directly related to what I do now - I learned what I do now on the job. But I did get the job because I had a strong mathematical background.
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was at school, but I knew I wanted to do something related to marine sciences. I have reinvented myself many times, having worked as a consultant in the water industry, and as a process engineer before my current position as a fisheries population modeller.
Having a good knowledge of mathematics and other science subjects will allow you to work in many different fields and change directions relatively easily.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
Working in Antarctica is a definite highlight. I also love working in international meetings and making a global difference through the science we do.
Why do you believe engaging in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is important to New Zealand?
Most decisions New Zealand makes should be based on STEM, and more and more professions require a strong STEM background - particularly with the increase in technologies.
Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
Women in STEM and diversity in STEM is critical. The more diverse the people working on any subject, the more likely that a holistic view and solution might be reached.
We all come from different viewpoints and we see things in a different way. So the more varied the people, the more likely that great solutions will be found as opposed to “business as usual”. It is particularly critical in STEM where the diversity is not reached yet.
Sophie is Fisheries Modeller at NIWA, in which she analyses fisheries data and creates mathematical models of fish populations, and sometimes of marine ecosystems. Her work provides the scientific basis used to set catch limits for fisheries in New Zealand and overseas.
This profile is part of our series of girls and women in STEM.
View all profiles