The value of a UWA degree

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UWA and me

I am a Brazilian oceanographer who moved to Australia in 2009 to learn English, with a view to taking on a PhD. After studying hard for the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, I finally obtained the needed score and received an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) to start my PhD at UWA on ocean plastic pollution, under the supervision of Prof. Charitha Pattiaratchi. My PhD project characterised ocean plastic pollution in waters around Australia for the first time. My findings were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and covered by the media in newspaper articles, radio interviews and television news stories. The experience I gained while studying at UWA allowed me to conduct impactful research while working for The Ocean Cleanup and, more recently, the Minderoo Foundation. During my PhD studies I also built important relationships with Professors and peers. I still rely on these contacts when seeking advice in professional and personal matters.

Science communication is key

I am passionate about producing impactful research and then sharing the findings not only with the scientific community but with the broader community. I trust science communication is key to driving positive change in our society and I hope to keep contributing to projects that are driving us towards a sustainable future via technological innovations and policy change.

A future of clean oceans

Early this year, I co-founded a new start-up called Uluu. Our mission is to replace harmful plastics with a climate positive biomaterial made with seaweed via a special saltwater production process.

I also work part-time for the UWA Oceans Institute, doing research on sources, impacts and solutions to ocean plastic pollution as well as designing a UWA+ short course on plastic pollution & solutions. You can check the course details here.

Words of Wisdom

Find a dream worth working hard for, and then move forward with determination and team work. As my previous boss says: “Never, Ever Give Up”.

Dr Julia Reisser is currently leading ocean plastic research at the UWA Oceans Institute as well as setting up a new biotech start-up called Uluu to create a new carbon negative biomaterial made out of seaweed. Julia is also doing a part-time MBA at UWA to complement the skills she has gained over 15 years of experience in setting up, managing and leading research projects. She has led many scientific missions in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Antarctic oceans.

Julia’s PhD at The University of Western Australia was focused on ocean plastic pollution in Australian waters. This was a novel project that characterised and quantified levels of buoyant plastic in waters around Australia for the first time.

In recent years, she worked for The Ocean Cleanup Foundation as Chief Scientist and Project Manager (2014 – 2018) and at the Minderoo Foundation as the research lead of programs tackling plastic Pollution. Julia has given many interviews to the media (e.g. CNN and The Financial Times) and participated in a few high-level events, including meetings at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York. The quality of Julia’s research is evidenced by her high number of scientific citations (3900+) and media coverage of the 30+ peer-reviewed publications she has co-authored over the years.