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Celebrating Women and Girls in science

terça-feira, 13 de fevereiro de 2024

Celebrating Women and Girls in science

Celebrating women and girls in science

Sunday was International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate some of the incredible women who work for OSRL and specialise in science.

Bryony Wood, our Dispersant Technical Authority, has been a part of the organisation for over 18 years; her expertise, enthusiasm, and tireless work ethic have helped fuel our innovation in oil spill response.

Her scientific journey began at the University of Southampton, where she had originally planned to embark on a career in medical science, specifically physiotherapy. After leaving school, she was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in a Tall Ships race on the open seas. Whilst on a night watch, she noticed the phosphorescence on the water glowing like stars in the wake of another boat. At that moment, she became even more fascinated by the sea, and witnessing the phenomenon of bioluminescence from phosphorous inspired her to change her original learning path and go down the Oceanography and Marine Biology route instead.

Whilst studying this fascinating subject, Bryony had the opportunity to study for a dissertation in Indonesia, studying the fish population structures, looking at the physical factors of coral and how it would affect the fish population in that area.

She had already come to the realisation that she didn't want to be a lab-based scientist but a field-based scientist instead, to carry on with the adventure of working in amongst it all and not be tied to a lab. Whilst working for the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency on an incident, she saw a team of responders from OSRL and was inspired to take the leap and join the team.

Bryony was able to use her scientific skills and knowledge to help out directly during a major incident in the Gulf of Mexico. She was in the first wave of responders to head out to the Macondo spill, and as part of the response process, she was asked to set up a Dispersant Monitoring team. They brought in some industry experts to support their work, which helped them deliver high-quality data to the command post and supporting the U.S Coast Guard, which was then used to justify and keep the dispersant operation going.

Starting out in the oil and gas business almost 20 years ago, it was visible then how the industry was very male-dominated, especially in her field of expertise, but Bryony didn't let it get in her way. She knew she was valued in her job and respected by the people around her. She appreciated that everyone had their own skill-set and brought their own strengths to the team, and even in a more male environment, her knowledge and strengths were noticed and adhered to. 

Bryony said: "I don't think of myself as a woman scientist, I'm just a scientist, I'm a Response Specialist."

She has been given the opportunity to work at a senior level in some industry groups, where a large proportion of the people in the working group are senior women.

She said: "It's really good for me to see so many women at a high level that are so confident and have such strong self-belief; it really gives me something to aspire to."

Bryony understands the need for diversity in a working environment, especially in science. Diversity gives a better scope of understanding the world in different ways and makes problem-solving easier to give a different perspective on something to drive for more balanced results.

We wanted to celebrate Bryony, along with the other women working alongside her, and their contributions to making waves in the field of science.