Celebrating Science and Year of the Young Person – Lynda Blackadder

July 19, 2018 by No Comments | Category Marine Directorate Science, Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths_STEM, Year of the Young Person

2018 is both the Year of the Engineer and the Year of the Young Person and this month we have another blog about one of our many colleagues who inspire the next generation with their Outreach work.

Meet Lynda Blackadder, an aspiring ballet dance but currently a Fisheries Data Analyst and Modeller in the Coastal and Offshore Fisheries Team at Marine Scotland.

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Lynda Blackadder. I work in the Inshore Fisheries Group and my current research is mainly concerned with the stock assessments for Nephrops norvegicus and Pecten maximus. I take responsibility for the maintenance and development of the inshore survey databases and respond to internal and external data queries. I am also a STEM ambassador and member of the MSS Outreach team.

Why is what you do important?
It’s all about perspective? Nephrops and scallops are both valuable shellfish species and important to Scotland because those fisheries support a lot of industries and jobs. It’s important to protect and manage our fish and shellfish stocks responsibly so that future generations can enjoy them. It’s important to share our knowledge and this is especially pertinent in this “Year of the Young Person”. I also think that it is important to recognise that I “do” much more than the above few sentences. I think I am a pretty good colleague, friend, wife and mum…and so it is important to me that I can juggle all of these things at once!

What’s your career path been – how did you get here?
Standard grades, Highers and CSYS at Glenrothes High School. I started working when I was 13 in a local bottle shop. I got paid £1.50 an hour and it was back breaking work to unload the delivery of crates of beer and wine. My pay got docked if I damaged or smashed anything. It gave me a sense of independence and I enjoyed making my own money. The money helped me pay for scuba diving lessons when I was 15 and that’s when I decided that this was the career for me. I worked part time in Topshop when I was 16 and continued in retail all through University. I obtained a BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and MRes Marine and Fisheries Science at the University of Aberdeen. My project involved working with the fishing gear section at the Marine Lab and I was lucky enough to go aboard MRV Scotia. I enjoyed the work and got on well with everyone; and I think they liked me…as they invited me back for another two trips that year (unpaid I would like to point out!). A job became available in the inshore fisheries group shortly after and I have been very lucky to have very supportive line managers who have helped me to progress my career.

If you weren’t doing this, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
I was always interested in Forensic Science and enjoy crime novels; but seriously doubt I would be able to cope with the real life gory aspects. As a young girl I ballet danced and would love to play piano (it’s still on my bucket list) – it’s a shame that I am not musically gifted and have been described as tone deaf :(. I am actually very thankful for the job that I do and the family and friends I have. I don’t want to be doing anything else…for the moment at least!

What’s your favourite fishy fact?
Did you know that the “Aliens” movies were inspired by a real life deep sea amphipod species? These creatures belong to the Phronima genus and look quite terrifying (albeit they are very small). I was lucky enough to be on a deep sea cruise when we caught a live one and aptly named him “dude in the barrel”. Many hours were spent watching this amazing little thing propel itself around in the inside of a salp. Absolutely fascinating!

What made you decide to be involved in Outreach?
I became involved in Outreach as soon as I started at the lab and used to help John Dunn with various school visits and tours of MRV Scotia. I enjoy speaking to people and am passionate about what I do so it seems natural that I was drawn to this type of work. I became a STEM ambassador and this has only helped to increase my enthusiasm for the subjects and sharing my knowledge and experiences with others.

What do you enjoy most about doing Outreach?
I love speaking to people about my job and working with kids can be hilarious. They ask amazing questions and it’s very rewarding to see how engaged they become. Career events are also great because you can spark an idea or a potential career path that the pupil or parent had never considered. One of the added benefits of doing this type of work is that you get to practice your presenting and communication skills. I definitely think this has increased my confidence and has made an improved difference to how I participate in other aspects of my work.

Would you encourage others to get involved in Outreach too?
Definitely! There is a wide variety of events going on so I am sure that there will be something to suit you if standing in front of a class of 30 kids sends shivers down your spine. We have an Outreach team based at the Marine Lab and we would love for more people to be involved. Please drop us an email or come and have a chat.

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