Tell us about your work / research. What kinds of things do you do?
I specialize in managing metadata, data about the data. It's the who, what, where, when, why of a dataset. For example, I keep track of where and when an experiment was deployed, who is running the experiment, what is being studied, and how often it was visited before it was recovered. Not only do I help manage this information, but I also help ensure that we follow community standards for recording and reporting it all. There are a lot of pieces of information that need to be accounted for in our underwater observatory systems. My work is about connecting people to data and that they have all the information they need in order to use it.
What sparked your initial interest in your career?
My interest in science and the natural world is rooted in a childhood spent outdoors with two biologists for parents. After working as a research assistant on various projects during my undergraduate degree I started to get a taste of how complex and important data management was. I'd also become interested in coding and database design by then. Metadata and data management seemed like the perfecting blend of my love of science and my fascination with information.
Who influenced you or encouraged you the most?
My family has always been very encouraging of my career aspirations. They always pushed for me to pursue whatever I found interesting.
What element of your work / study do you think is the most fascinating?
One of the most exciting parts of my work is how the data collected by Ocean Networks Canada fits into the larger community of marine research. There is an almost overwhelming amount of data about our environment and trying to organize that information in a way that promotes data sharing and facilitates new discoveries is a very exciting challenge. The fact that I get to focus on information about ecosystems as fascinating as hydrothermal vents is an added bonus.
What other jobs led you to your current career?
I've worked as a research assistant on a number of projects, ranging from studying parasites in salmon to helping build a digital library for the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre. I was also a metadata technician for the Government of Alberta. Through these combined experiences I was able to gain an understanding of common data management challenges across multiple disciplines as well as some of the solutions.
What are your degrees and certifications?
Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Environmental Studies - University of Victoria 2014; Masters of Library and Information Studies - University of Alberta 2016
What are your hobbies?
I love to cook, especially when I get to use produce grown in my own garden.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career like yours?
Try everything. If I had to give career advice it would be to say yes to as many opportunities as you can, even if they only seem tangentially related to your field of interest. I didn't even think about data management as a career until I participated in a number of research projects. You never know where you'll find your passion. Taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way gives you a chance to explore and grow in ways you might never have thought of.