15 Sep 2022

Meet Dr Leanne Melbourne


Ever thought about how much museums enrich our lives? Well, there’s a world of research behind the scenes too. The American Museum of Natural History is one such institution supporting vital research about all aspects of our world, and where the academic Dr Leanne Melbourne is currently based.

“I am passionate about research and science communication, especially with a focus on climate change and the natural world. I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. My research focuses on how climate change will affect the structural integrity of marine organisms. Previous to this I spent two years working in science communication.”

Dr Leanne Melbourne uses the expert knowledge she’s built up during her career in academia to further the field of ocean science; she studies the effect of climate change on marine organisms such as seaweeds and algae and hopes that her work will help to protect vital marine habitats in the future.

Source: Natural History Museum

Leanne began her academic career with a Chemistry undergraduate Master’s degree, at the University of Bristol. Throughout her studies, she was drawn to the natural environment and decided to pursue the field of ocean chemistry. With a strong foundation in science from her first degree, she switched departments to follow her passion, undertaking a PhD in Earth Sciences.

Source: Linkedin

Leanne loved science at school and admits that before embarking on her first degree, her parents were keen for her to do a medical degree, as this would guarantee a stable career path. Representation of BAME women in the world of academia was scarce, and Leanne didn’t think that scientific research was even an option.

Now, Dr Leanne Melbourne is the representation she lacked as a young girl growing up in north London: a black British Caribbean woman in STEM. Though representation has come a long way, Leanne believes there is still a long way to go.

“As I progress further into my career, I notice there are fewer women and fewer people of colour working at my level. I want everyone to feel that science is for them.”

Leanne loves encouraging young women to pursue a career in science, and her presence as a visible figure in the ocean science discipline will surely inspire a diverse new generation of scientists in her wake.

This article was written by Phoebe, a Stemette society member.

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