Meet Josie Crawshaw

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Job: 

PhD Student & Estuarine Ecology Research Assistant.

Job description: 

From day to day I can either be in the laboratory processing sediment and water samples, or out in the field setting up and running experiments. It is normal to get very wet and muddy in my field! Some days I spend in the office editing data and making graphs or writing scientific papers to publish in international journals to share our new knowledge with other scientists around the world.

Work background: 

I have worked in both regional council and private consulting firms as an estuarine ecology technician. My primary roles were to identify macroinvertebrates found in the estuary sediment or conduct size surveys on bivalves (such as pipi, tuatua, cockles) to inform stakeholders on the state of the environment. I also spent three years working part-time as an aquarist and marine educator at the NZ Marine Studies Centre, teaching marine science courses to primary and high school students. 

Favourite part of job: 

The project we are focusing on is constantly changing based on funding and time availability. That means I am always learning new skills and investigating new questions. I also love that my job takes me to new and exciting field sites, and I get my feet wet often.

Least favourite part of job: 

Some projects involve a lot of laboratory work, so the work can get repetitive when working on the same thing for a long period of time. Luckily the data we collect is always so exciting to look at, you can always see a light at the end of the tunnel!

What I am working on now: 

We are investigating how cumulative stressors (nutrients and sedimentation) may influence how accessible nutrients (such as carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and sulphur) are to the microbial community. They need nutrients to survive and grow, however an excess of nutrients (beyond what the microbes can use) can have negative effects on the environment. How the microbial community reacts to increased stressors may have a flow-on effect to the larger animals living in the sediments, so it is important to know how these microscopic organisms react!

Qualifications: 

I have a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Marine Science, and a Postgraduate Diploma of Marine Science from Otago University. I am about to hand in my PhD in Marine Science at Otago University.

Interests outside work: 

I enjoy being in the ocean – so scuba diving and surfing are my two favourite summer interests. However, when winter comes you can find me at the nearest ski field!


Josie is a PhD Student and Estuarine Ecology Research Assistant at the University of Otago. Image: Sustainable Seas Challenge.