Australia's Chief Scientist

Australian Science Superheroes – Emma Kennedy

“I can breathe underwater! I’m a field biologist and study coral reefs, so I spend a lot of time upside down in the ocean.”

Australian scientists work right across every inch of our sunburnt country, and across every field of discovery. Now, the Office of the Chief Scientist is shining a light on some of the Australian Science Superheroes with a new campaign – #AusScienceHeroes.

Check back regularly for new profiles, and make sure you check out the Chief Scientist Facebook and twitter accounts for more coverage.

Emma Kennedy
@reef_scientist
Research Fellow
Global Change Institute
University of Queensland, Brisbane

What is your science superpower?

I can breathe underwater! I’m a field biologist and study coral reefs, so I spend a lot of time upside down in the ocean. We’re worried about how the changing climate is affecting the organisms living on the Great Barrier Reef. My job is to investigate what’s happening and why.

The year is 2030. How has life changed as a result of your research?

We have used science to understand and protect coral reefs, so we can keep using them for food, fishing and fun. We’ve mapped the reefs and the creatures living there. Citizen scientists help collect data across the Great Barrier Reef so we can monitor its health and react to changes.

What drew you to science in the first place?

I grew up by the Natural History Museum in London, where I fell in love with the stuffed animals – but all the weird ones! Coral reefs are where a quarter of marine animals live so they’re the best place to go to eyeball scaly, slimy, downright weird and wonderful creatures.

When you’re not wearing your science superhero cape, what do you get up to?

You can’t keep me out of the ocean! I work as a scuba instructor on weekends, and love introducing divers to the marine world for the first time. I believe science is for everyone: I sit on the science panel for citizen science organization ReefCheck, and volunteer whenever I can!