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Drew Lohrer

Marine Ecologist

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As a boy, Drew Lohrer used to accompany his mother to her work as a volunteer at the oceanographic society. "She would lead groups to study the tide pools, and I’d wander around them – it was great fun. Since then, I’ve always loved the ocean."

It’s hardly surprising that, years later, Drew chose to do a PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (working on marine systems). With this he got a job as a marine ecologist, which proved to be everything he'd expected and more. "It’s intellectually stimulating and fun, but it is also good to know that I’m helping conservation, as local councils incorporate our work into their policy documents.

"Some people think a marine ecologist works only with dolphins or whales, but it’s not always large animals like that. I mainly work on creatures that live on the sea floor. Early on I studied crabs, and now I focus on sea urchins, shellfish and worms, trying to understand their roles in the ecosystem."

Though the work is important, it's often done in an unglamorous environment. "When I dive, it’s mostly in low-visibility conditions, and my world view is often a patch of mud! However, I do get to go to exciting places like the Antarctic to study coastal systems. It is surreal diving there – the water is crystal clear and the types and amounts of animals you see are just astounding.

"Though I don’t get to dive all the time, there’s no monotony because I do different things all the time. Within a year, I might write proposals to get funding for what I want to do, then do fieldwork and perform experiments. Finally, I would analyse the data and write up my findings.

"I can’t really imagine doing something other than what I do. I’m lucky because people embark on a career path and hope that they like it, but with me, I knew I’d love it and it seems like each year it gets better and better!"

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