As well as becoming a senior fellow at James Cook University, Jodie has given a TEDx talk, been featured on the Discovery Channel and even raced fish against Michael Phelps.
“One of my catch phrases is, ‘If you can see it, you can become it’. So, it’s important for me to be a visible role model and show the next generation – perhaps that nine-year-old girl growing up, perhaps surrounded by farmland – that you don’t have to be an old white guy in a lab coat. You can be outdoorsy and feminine and sporty… whatever you want to be… and still be a successful scientist.”
Jodie leads a large research program working with baby sharks in French Polynesia. She studies the physiology of these sharks to monitor how they can adapt and cope with changes in their environment.
“Fish are amazing athletes – they use their athletic abilities to live in almost every body of water on the planet,” Jodie said.
Jodie and her team conduct non-lethal studies on the baby sharks to find out how much they’re breathing before and after exercise. They can then change the sharks’ environmental conditions to mimic the year 2050 or the year 2100 to see how elevated temperatures affect the sharks’ breathing rates. Their results help scientists understand how sharks and other marine life may cope as climate change continues to alter their environment.
One contributing factor to the long-term health of sharks and other marine life is the amount of plastic pollution entering our waterways and oceans. Jodie says the first step to solving this problem is educating people on where their rubbish actually goes.
“When we throw our rubbish in the bin, we never see it again. But it doesn’t just disappear – it goes somewhere. Depending on which country you live in, it could get put on a barge and dumped in the ocean. Or it could get buried or dumped on an island. But unless that rubbish is made of organic material, it won’t degrade back into the earth. It will eventually run off into a water source.”
“I grew up in Illinois – the middle of the United States, right next to the Mississippi river, the largest river in the U.S. That river drains into the Gulf of Mexico, which drains into the Atlantic Ocean. Everything is connected and it will get back into the oceans at some point.”
“Now, more than ever, we need those brilliant minds – all genders, all cultures, every background possible – to help solve the problems our planet is facing.”
Dr Jodie Rummer, JCU Researcher