Dr Vanessa Pirotta is a wildlife scientist, woman in STEM and science communicator.
Vanessa’s zoological background has taken her around the world for wildlife research. She is a passionate and experienced science communicator who loves making science accessible. Her keen interests cover topics of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, also known as STEAM. Vanessa has represented Australia internationally as the national winner of a world-renowned science communication competition known as FameLab, where she placed second in the world.
She has spoken as an invited marine mammal expert at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome, Italy and has presented her research via the TEDx platform.
Vanessa’s continued dedication to outreach within schools and with science professionals has seen her recognised as one of the top 100 Women of Influence judged by the Australian Financial Review. Vanessa has also been listed as one of 60 women from around Australia to join Science & Technology Australia 2021-2022 Superstars of STEM cohort. Vanessa continues to actively engage with schools around Australia and the world by sharing knowledge about her research and encouraging young minds into STEM/STEAM careers.
In addition to whale research, Vanessa is the chief scientist on a major illegal wildlife trafficking detection program. This is a collaborative research program with 1) Rapiscan Systems, 2) the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 3) the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water and 4) the Taronga Conservation Society Australia. Vanessa and her team are teaching computers to look for illegally smuggled wildlife in luggage and mail pathways.
Vanessa also leads Sydney’s (Australia) newest citizen science marine program, Wild Sydney Harbour, which is aimed at connecting the community with marine life in their blue backyard.