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Seaweek 2011: Spotlight on Marine Science

Marine Scientist Profile:

Who am I?
My name is Ana Vila-Concejo and I am a Marine Scientist specialised in coastal processes, I study how waves and currents transport sand and modify the coast.

I work for and my work / research involves:
I work for the School of Geosciences of the University of Sydney ( and I am currently involved in two projects. (1) I am looking at how the sand moves in Port Stephens and why some of the beaches there are losing so much sand; (2) I am also looking at how coral reefs produce sand and why, how and how fast this sand is then transported.

To do my work I get to go the beach to measure the levels and shape of the beaches and also to measure the waves and the currents. I also go in boats and jetskis to measure under water. Some of us also dive to deploy and collect instruments. When we get back to the laboratory we measure the size and shape of the sand grains and we analyse the composition. Some of my study sites are Port Stephens in NSW and One Tree Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

How does my work relate to marine conservation?
My research shows how the coast is evolving; it helps to determine if a place is losing sand (erosion) and what are the processes involved. Coastal managers can then use my results to establish effective nourishment programs that will bring sand back to eroded beaches. My research also helps in determining the effects of climate change in the coast (what will happen when sea level rises).

Things I like about my job:
I love my job. I get to go to beautiful places and to meet interesting people. It also feels good that it is not all about the money and that my research is somehow helping other people. It is great to be on the beach, or on a boat on beautiful sunny days; it does not feel as good when we are there on cold and rainy days, but it is always better than a day in the office!

What inspired you to consider a career in marine science?
I have been sailing since I was 8 years old and by the age of 11 I decided that Marine Science was for me! I thought that I wanted to look at biology but later, when I learnt that beaches changed with the waves and the currents I decided that coastal processes was what I wanted to do.

Do you have a favourite marine creature (if so why)?
No favourite marine creatures but I love beautiful white clean sand.



Ana Vila-Concejo

Ana enjoying the marine environment



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