The only woman on board

A woman leans her shoulder against the wall of an aquarium. A swarm of silver and purple fish move about on the other side of the glass.

The only woman on board

Verena Tunnicliffe talks about her determination to pursue oceanography on research ships despite opposition
March 5, 2015

The University of Victoria’s Verena Tunnicliffe recalls the open hostility she faced when she first began boarding research ships to conduct her oceanographic studies. In one instance, the cook refused to sail, saying it was either him or her. Guess who walked that plank? Tunnicliffe persevered, despite the male-dominated nautical culture, to answer fundamental questions about deep sea ecosystems off the west coast. She was one of the lead researchers who used CFI-funds to build VENUS, a system of interconnected underwater cables that beam real-time measurements from the sea floor to onshore computers. Such on-demand access has opened the field for many female researchers who would otherwise have had to choose between a career in science and raising a family. In this podcast, Tunnicliffe takes us to the deepest, darkest corners of the ocean where some of the creepiest experiments have occurred. Her story begins in the 1980s as one of the only woman on board a research ship at sea in the Pacific Ocean where she experienced a few dark moments.

This podcast is part of an International Women’s Day podcast series called Groundbreakers.