Dr. Deirdre Ryan

Deirdre is the 2021-2022 chair of the Marine and Coastal Geoscience Division.

What is your current professional role?
I am currently a postdoc at the 

Università di Pisa

 Italy. I am part of the interdisciplinary SPHeritage Project (https://spheritage.dst.unipi.it/index.php/en/). My focus is specifically the paleo sea-level and geochronological constraint aspects of the project.

What aspects of marine or coastal geoscience do you work on (or have you worked on in the past)?
My work has been focused on Quaternary sea level fluctuations and associated climatic change. I am also an expert on the geochronological method of amino acid racemization. I have been lucky enough to participate in field work investigating these questions in many countries around the world: Australia, Italy, New Zealand, and the Republic of Cabo Verde.

How did you first become interested in science?
I've been interested in the natural environment for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the country and used to run wild in the hills surrounding the house. One of my favorite books to flip through as a kid was a children's book on Natural History that had great illustrations - I wish I still had that book. My dad was a farmer and for a long time I thought I would end up working in agriculture.

How have been your greatest mentors?
That's kind of a tricky question. I've had 'mentors' for different aspects and periods of my life. I guess the science mentors that come immediately to mind are Colin Murray-Wallace, Robert (Bob) Bourman, and Alessio Rovere. The former two were my PhD supervisors and we continue to collaborate and I continue to learn just simply how to 'science' from them. Alessio was my first postdoc supervisor. We're actually the same age but I started my science career a bit later. I learned a lot from him about the networking, social side of science and also grant writing. We also still collaborate.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this field?
Finding a good mentor is very important, but making friends amongst your peers is also critical. Your peers are the people you can commiserate with, celebrate with, and have discussions with without the pressure of what kind of impression you are making. Since they're at the same point, they know well the struggles/hurdles of your career stage and become your support group and sounding board. Maybe they'll become your collaborators as well.

Where is your favorite coastal or marine location?
Psh, this must be what it is like to ask which is your favorite child.   

What are some things (not including work) that you are passionate about?
Native plants (and on the flip side, removing invasive species). Native plants are important for ecological resilience and in drought prevalent regions (like California where I'm from) make more water-sense. I think I really 'got into' native plants while living in Australia. They have a volunteer organization there called Bushcare, which works to rehabilitate and restore disturbed habitats. It's a lot of weeding of invasive species and replanting of the appropriate native plants and I really enjoyed the work and the people.  

You get a chance to relax with your favorite meal and your favorite music- what are you eating and listening to?
Ooo that is very mood dependent. I don't think you could go wrong with a glass of wine in a sunny, vineyard environment. That's not food though! I'm very into ramen right now. I'm all over the place with music as well, but I've been listening to a lot of Fat Freddy's Drop recently.