“As a graduating PhD student, the best career advice I received from my advisors was to seek opportunities throughout my career that would open new avenues of thinking and exploration." Julie Kellner seems to have taken this advice and run with it. So far, her career path has taken her from academic institutions to government agencies with work that spans interdisciplinary research, resource management, and scientific grant administration, also having the opportunity to interact, study, and collaborate with a broad spectrum of ecologists and economists, resource managers and stakeholders.
Kellner's interest in interdisciplinary research was sparked as an undergraduate intern at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, California, where she evaluated the potential impacts of coastal aquaculture development. Moving forward, she researched the spatial complexities of fish movements and harvesting at the boundaries of marine protected areas, also discovering “that one can never have enough mathematics and statistics training!".
Swapping west coast academia for the science-policy interface on the east coast, Kellner took up a fellowship with NOAA in Washington DC, gaining a practical (and eye-opening) understanding of the coordination involved across marine science and policy.
Over the past decade, Kellner has led and collaborated on projects in areas such as marine spatial planning including ecosystem-based fisheries management, population connectivity of marine communities in tropical, temperate and deep-sea ecosystems, marine invasive species, watershed and coastal management, evaluation of threats to coral reef ecosystems and the exploration of the potential impacts of deep-sea mining on community dynamics.
“This new role as a professional officer with the ICES science programme is well-suited to my diverse interests and expertise in ecosystem science, data management, and ecological modelling."
ICES is broadening the scope of the ecosystem overviews and Kellner's ecosystem and MPA experience will be beneficial. “Within the overviews, we want to advance the information on climate change, as well as incorporate socio-economics. This work has already started with a workshop on the design and scope of the third generation of the overviews where we set out how we expect to incorporate these updates: some will happen over the next year or two but other updates will take longer as the science needs to be developed specifically for ICES."
There are almost 150 expert groups (and at least twice as many acronyms) operating within ICES and Kellner is hoping to familiarize herself with all of their outputs, so that she can facilitate in sharing, advancing, and promoting their science. “My role involves a good blend of working with scientists and how their science can be utilized by management and policy – so this position provides a great opportunity to learn how it's done in Europe. Making science applicable to management and stakeholders needs and translating it into policy is obviously a long process, a process that is quite different in Europe when compared to the US because of the many shared boundaries and waters. But I feel these challenges keep things up-to-date because so many countries are bringing their perspectives."
As a native of Los Angeles, Kellner grew up invigorated by the vast opportunities for exploration and knowledge-building that cities provide. “All scientists love to learn. And I am thrilled to have a new community of scientists to learn from. My newly adopted community has provided intensive lessons on European fisheries and an in-depth education on the expansive network of ICES expert groups and workshops, and" Kellner laughs, "all without hesitation to use an ever-increasing number of acronyms in their explanations."
For now California, with its sunny weather, wave-swept coasts and the rocky intertidal, sourdough bread, cheese enchiladas and green corn tamales has been replaced by Copenhagen, it's changeable weather and smørrebrød, and happily for Kellner, “talks about new science, field technologies, and data analysis, lunchtime discussions comparing world politics, lessons on how to pronounce my Danish home street address, and frequent celebrations (always with cake) to commemorate every type of good news at ICES".