Dr Joanne O’Callaghan

Oceanographer, NIWA

Joe O’Callaghan is a physical oceanographer based at NIWA. She adopts an observational approach to better understand the parts of the ocean where people work and play. Her research focuses on understanding the biophysics of Aotearoa New Zealand’s coasts and shelf seas. Since over 75% of NZ’s population lives within 10km of the coast my research is pertinent to many social and environmental concerns. Joe obtained her Bachelor of Science in Meteorology and Oceanography at Flinders University, South Australia, her Honours degree at James Cook University, Townsville and PhD at the University of Western Australia a few years back! As a physical oceanographer Joe spends a few months each year out in the field observing Aotearoa New Zealand oceans – from weeks aboard NIWA’s RV Tangaroa to day trips on coastal vessels deploying ocean gliders. Over the past five years Joe has founded and runs Aotearoa New Zealand’s ocean robot glider facility.

Ocean gliders have revolutionised the way ocean observations are made – they can collect data at higher spatial and temporal resolutions that traditionally collected by research vessels, and at a fraction of the cost. Autonomous technology is the future of ocean science, and having underwater gliders roaming the shelf seas is a major step forward for ocean science in Aotearoa New Zealand. These autonomous robots are helping Joe to unlock the dynamics between physics and biology in Aotearoa New Zealand’s oceans. Joe likes to share her experiences of being a scientist on social media, with the public and school kids as much as she can. This will Joe’s first voyage to the Kermadecs/Rangitāhua. She’s excited to be able observe and learn more about the amazing subtropical marine environment, and to share her oceanography knowledge with Blake voyagers.