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Case study 04

Joana Beja

British Oceanographic Data Centre

Picture of an albatross

Joana Beja, a marine data scientist working for NERC’s British Oceanographic Data Centre, explains how her work helps to increase the value of environmental data to the UK.

“The government invests billions of pounds each year in research and development. We make research data available for scientists, students, businesses and the public to reuse,” says marine data scientist Joana Beja.

Joana works for the British Oceanographic Data Centre in Liverpool, part of the Natural Environment Research Council.

The marine environment, by its nature, transcends international borders. Joana specialises in polar marine data, and participates in research missions to the polar oceans.

“In 2012 I participated in a mission to Antarctica: my first time on a British ship. We were lucky with the weather, which allowed us to meet all our scientific objectives.

“We also visited the research stations at South Georgia and Bird Island to deliver supplies. Bird Island is a Site of Special Scientific Interest where no tourists are allowed.

“Being able to visit was an experience that will stay with me forever. I was able to see an albatross on land for the very first time – they are huge!”

Antarctic science, a crown jewel of UK environmental research, shows international collaboration at its best. “I co-chair a multinational group that supports Antarctic scientists with their research and project planning. I’m currently the only UK representative on the group,” she says.

Joana herself is Portuguese and, like many of our best scientists, has developed her expertise through an international career.

“My degree and post-graduate qualifications are from Portuguese universities. I worked as a scientist for 11 years before moving to the UK in 2011. When the economic crisis hit Portugal, many scientists took their skills to other EU countries.”

Joana’s work with the international community helps to develop her employer’s reputation and influence.

“I have recently been to an international meeting with representatives from China, the US, Germany and France. About half of those attending were natives of the country they represented – the remaining were immigrants, like me. World-class science knows no borders. It’s through international collaboration that we improve our systems and knowledge.”

Joana is passionate about the country she now calls home. “I found my place in Liverpool, surrounded by diverse people and cultures.

“Many, like me, have rebuilt their lives far from their family and friends. I work hard, contributing my skills and knowledge to further the UK’s scientific achievements and international reputation.”