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Vanessa obtained a First Class Honours BSc degree in Marine Biology and Oceanography at Bangor University (UK) and was awarded a Commonwealth Postgraduate Scholarship to undertake her PhD in Marine Science at the University of Otago in collaboration with James Cook University. Her PhD focused on tropical reef fish population dynamics and the associated influence of seasonality in biophysical processes. This was followed by a research role at Victoria University of Wellington investigating biophysical processes relevant to larval fish recruitment in temperate (New Zealand) and tropical (French Polynesia) reef systems.

Vanessa has worked in the climate arena since 2008, first as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Queensland studying ocean acidification and warming, and then as a Principal Scientist with the Queensland Climate Change Centre of Excellence, a climate science research centre which undertook research to inform Queensland's response to climate change, variability and extremes. Vanessa worked on a range of projects including investigating observed and projected change in the marine environment at various spatial and temporal scales, coastal ocean modelling to investigate coastal inundation due to future increases in sea level and cyclone intensity, and working with various sectors (e.g., fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, water management) on better understanding sector-specific climate impacts and adaptation.

Vanessa joined the UK Met Office in 2014 and was a member of the Ocean Forecasting team responsible for the maintenance and development of OSTIA, the Operational Sea Surface Temperature and Ice Analysis system run daily at the Met Office. The team also produces GMPE, the Group for High Resolution Sea Surface Temperature (GHRSST) Multi-Product Ensemble, which takes as inputs gap-free sea surface temperature analyses from various centres around the world and produces daily ensemble products (ensemble median and standard deviations for SST). Vanessa also contributed to the European Union Horizon 2020 project AtlantOS, aimed at achieving a sustainable, efficient, and fit-for-purpose Integrated Atlantic Ocean Observing System (IAOOS).

Now at CSIRO, Vanessa is a Senior Research Scientist in the Coastal Extremes Modelling and Projections team, where she utilises her expertise in unstructured mesh coastal ocean modelling, setting up and running the SCHISM-WWMIII coupled hydrodynamic-wave model under current and future climate scenarios for projects in Australia (Australian Climate Service; Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment) and the Pacific (VanKIRAP project for Vanuatu). Model outputs underpin coastal hazard risk assessments that aim to inform decision making, increase climate resilience, and support positive environmental, social and economic outcomes.

Vanessa has also been involved in various NESP-related activities including case studies for the Northern Territory and Shark Bay (Western Australia), as well as NextGen Projections for the Pacific where she provided ocean climate and marine heatwave data analyses, projections and interpretation of results for stakeholders investigating the potential impact of climate change on the Cook Islands pearl oyster industry.

Vanessa is a keen STEM supporter, co-hosting Year 10 Work Experience students at CSIRO each year. She was a member of the Oceans & Atmosphere Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and the Neurodiversity Working Group, and now sits on the Environment BU Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Other Interests

Sea kayaking

Current Roles

  • Research Scientist
    Team: Sea Level, Waves, and Coastal Extremes

Community and Corporate Citizenship

  • 2022-2023

    O&A Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and Neurodiversity Working Group