Au revoir Laura

20 June, 2022

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After nearly 4 years as a fisheries scientist at Dragonfly, Laura Tremblay-Boyer recently moved to Hobart to take up a role at CSIRO.

During her time with us, she worked on sharks, rays, billfish, shellfish, seabirds and marine mammals. Analyses spanned data characterisations, catch per unit effort standardisation, spatio-temporal modelling and stock assessments.

At CSIRO, Laura is a senior research scientist in the pelagic population dynamics and management strategy evaluation team. She will stay involved in fisheries science and focus on oceanic species, particularly tuna and billfish.

“I was attracted to the position in part because I wanted to grow my skills as a communicator. In this role I’ll produce science that will inform the management of domestic Australian fisheries as well as continue to contribute research for Regional Fisheries Management Organisations such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.”

Laura says she was also excited about the interdisciplinary nature of her new team, which covers the whole research pipeline from data collection and analysis through to presentation to stakeholders.

“As a modeller at CSIRO there are many opportunities to interact with the biologists who are part of the team, and I really value that.”

She is also finding the skills she developed at Dragonfly are coming in handy, particularly the ability to develop automated, reproducible workflows to produce complex analyses.

“Most fisheries scientists learn coding on the fly and don’t necessarily follow best practices in terms of software development. The diverse team at Dragonfly means that they are always keeping track with the latest advancements in the software community. I became a much more rounded, versatile programmer over my time there.”

Philipp Neubauer, Laura’s manager at Dragonfly, says she made a significant contribution to the business during her time here and is greatly missed.

“The ray and shark work that we’re doing for Pacific Community, SPC these days is her legacy. We were given the contract for the oceanic whitetip shark stock assessment because of her experience, and that has been instrumental in us being offered more stock assessments for sharks and mobulids (manta and devil rays).”

Philipp says these fisheries are normally considered to be data-poor so new methods had to be developed to manage the input data.

“It’s about understanding how much faith you can have in the data, and building models based on the good data that is available. Laura was able to apply the tools that we commonly use at Dragonfly to those problems. She did a lot of thinking and a lot of work to progress our capability in that area.”

“We hoped that by hiring Laura, we would be able to grow into this area where we wanted to work. It’s great to see it materialised with her being there. Now Kath Large and I are carrying on the work.”

Philipp says it would be really fun to collaborate with CSIRO in the future.

“Fisheries science is a small world. One of the benefits of having people come and go from our workplace is ending up with potential collaborators. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again and work together in some way in the future.”

Read more about the oceanic whitetip shark stock assessment.