JCU maritime archaeologist and Senior Curator Dr Maddy McAllister is uncovering the mysteries of the reef and bringing shipwrecks to life for the wider public to enjoy. Maddy has a joint role with JCU and the Queensland Museum where she researches the Great Barrier Reef’s landscape of sunken ships. This Social Sciences Week (September 6 – 12), Maddy brings light to the perfect blend of science and history involved in her work.
Maddy says that growing up she loved scuba diving and being in the ocean, but she also loved to read about the past. So, how did she manage to combine these passions? “When I was about 13 or 14, my mum brought me along to a lecture by a museum curator and maritime archaeologist at the local RSL. I was probably the youngest person in the room! It was this curator who introduced me to the idea of studying shipwrecks,” Maddy says.
“It was through this that I discovered maritime archaeology’s wonderful mix of being underwater but also studying history and learning new things about our past through the study of shipwrecks.” Maddy says.
“So, after completing my PhD and working in Melbourne as a state maritime archaeologist, I came to work in Townsville in a joint role between JCU and the Queensland Museum. I work as a Senior Curator located at the Museum of Tropical Queensland and I also get to research and teach at JCU one day a week.”
Maddy’s passion for maritime archaeology highlights the strength of social sciences research. “I think social sciences is the perfect bridge between arts and sciences and that’s where disciplines like maritime archaeology really thrive. You can do really technical and scientific research, but also bring in people’s stories with the historical and archaeological research; it helps us to understand more about our past and look to the future,” she says.