Dr Vanessa Pirotta is a marine scientist largely focused on the conservation of marine wildlife. Her pioneering whale research resulted in the development of the world’s first drones with remotely operated flip-lid petri dishes (to minimise sample contamination) for collecting biological health samples from whale blow remotely- a step forward in global technological applications for non-invasive whale research and greatly improving existing drone technology. Collaborations with virologists also resulted in the first publication to successfully sample viruses via this method.
This work highlights the potential to use whales as mobile monitors of our ocean health, collecting information from oceans around the world. Overall, Vanessa's work in this area has demonstrated the benefits of science and industry collaborations to
overcome many of the challenges associated with using technology at sea. This research has taken Vanessa around the world, having travelled to Antarctica, Tonga and most recently, Madagascar. Vanessa is also a passionate and experienced science communicator who loves making science accessible to everyone.
Vanessa is the National and International award winner of the prestigious science communication competition FameLab, where she represented Australia on the international stage talking about her whale snot drone research.