|Dr Caroline Roche, a marine ecologist at Galway-based Aquafact, tells Smart Futures about protecting the environment and ensuring that European laws are followed.
What is Aquafact?
Aquafact is an environmental consultancy company that has been operating for about 28 years. Environmental consultants carry out work in response to environmental legislation, such as the Water Framework Directive or the Habitats Directive. When Government bodies or companies have to carry out building work we make sure that that everything is done correctly to conserve our habitats and water quality.
What subjects did you take in school?
For my Leaving Cert, I did biology, maths, geography and accounting.
Why did you study marine science?
Firstly, it was different as I’m from a landlocked county (Tipperary). It was always something that fascinated me. During the first year of marine science in NUI Galway, you study general biology, chemistry, physics and maths. In second year, you study specific marine topics.
What did you do when you graduated?
During fourth year in marine science, I specialised in zoology. I finished my degree in May and was offered a PhD in NUI Galway, which I started the following September.
What topic was your PhD on?
In Galway Bay they have to dredge the harbour every 10 or 15 years. They remove a load of sediment from the navigation channel, which is dumped in a disposal site. I monitored the effects that this dumping had on the disposal site in Galway Bay.
How did you get your current job?
The timing was right again! As soon as I finished my PhD, I was offered a job in Aquafact as somebody was leaving.
Could you describe your typical day?
It really depends on the project. There is a lot of research. On good days, you get to do some field work, such as shore surveys or taking samples from the boat. These samples enable us to assess the health of the habitat we’re looking at. We also need to keep an eye on potential jobs, such as Government tenders, so that we can apply for them. It’s not all swimming with dolphins!
What’s cool about your job?
Definitely getting out in the field. Also, the projects relate to EU policy and regulation. Everybody’s goal is the betterment of the environment.
What are the main challenges?
The main battle for any business is competing for jobs and keeping your costs competitive. What inspired your love of science? My love of nature. I hope to instil in people that conserving habitats and species is extremely important.