June 7, 2021

Jess Melbourne-Thomas sees the gifts of both science and wisdom

Jess Melbourne-Thomas sees the gifts of both science and wisdom

This episode follows on from last episode in that it was recorded in Tasmania; I had just come out of the takayna rainforest and I headed down to the CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research offices in Hobart to speak with a scientist who is working on new ways to link science with other sources of knowledge, including traditional wisdom.

It’s fitting that this episode is being released on World Oceans Day because she is a marine, atmospheric, and climate scientist who has studied ecosystems ranging from Indonesia to Antarctica.

In this conversation we talk about her childhood experiences that built her deep connections with our ocean, and led her down this path to want to study and protect our marine ecosystems.

We talk about the WAY science is presented, including the pressure environmental scientists feel when delivering ‘bad’ news and perhaps feeling the need to sugar coat it.

We talk about her current role as a ‘Transdisciplinary Researcher & Knowledge Broker’, and we break down firstly what this is, and secondly, why this role is important.

This includes discussing the limitations of science as we know it and use it in our current Westernised and corporatised system. She shares the importance of what she calls ‘Two-eyed seeing’; that is, not trying to blend science with traditional knowledge, but seeing the world through the lens of science in one eye, as WELL as traditional knowledge and wisdom in the other.

As someone who comes from a STEMM background myself, it can be interesting at times to have these conversations with people about science being a tool in our arsenal and not the only way to see the world.

We also talk about gender diversity in science, because she also co-founded Homeward Bound, which is a program to empower women and grow female leadership in the STEMM community.

Oh, and on top of all of that she was the 2020 Tasmanian of the Year, and formerly a Rhodes Scholar.

Please enjoy this conversation with Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas