Dr Siddhi Joshi: ‘The world needs a good lawyer to look after the planet’ by Jenny Darmody

by Jenny Darmody (Silicon Republic article, 2020)

Dr Siddhi Joshi is a marine biogeoscientist and human rights law researcher based in Galway. Here, she talks about her career journey and the importance of gender diversity in STEM.

When we think of scientists, engineers, software developers or researchers, it can be easy to focus on one main strand of their career. But many STEM professionals have several strings to their bow and each element can complement the other.

Dr Siddhi Joshi is a marine biogeoscientist based in Galway, having studied oceanography at University of Southampton, followed by a master’s in hydrographic surveying and a PhD in earth and ocean science at NUI Galway.

But Joshi is also an international human rights law researcher, having completed her Master of Laws at the Irish Centre for Human Rights. “Science needs the law and the world needs a good lawyer to look after the planet for future generations,” she said.

‘I really enjoy getting a holistic understanding of the natural systems’

From her experience in marine biogeoscience, Joshi said the natural world is intrinsically affected by human activity. As a volunteer for Amnesty International in Galway and student of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, she found that it’s possible to prevent or reduce destructive environmental practices using the instruments of international human rights law and environmental law.

“Climate change litigation is one of the key areas of my research, resulting in better regulation of the activities of large multinational corporations. If we don’t look after our planet now, what kind of world are we leaving for future generations?”

‘A holistic understanding of natural systems’

Aside from her law research, Joshi’s current marine science work involves the study of maerl or rhodolith coralline algae habitats and their sediment dynamics. “Maerl beds are free-living coralline red algae, which form biogenic gravel beaches of maerl debris, often known as coral beaches.”

Along with her study of maerl habitats, Joshi is passionate about marine conservation. During a summer placement in Canada, she became interested in marine habitat mapping as a non-invasive method of studying the seafloor.

“Our PhD supervisor was a well-established leader in marine conservation and, after being influenced by a range of professors, I decided to make an hour-long documentary called ‘Maerl: A Rare Seabed Habitat’ to help explain this science to the next generation of scientists as well as key stakeholders in marine conservation.”

Joshi said one of the most interesting parts of her work is observing natural phenomena for the first time in the field, “be it observing the living cold water corals in the [remotely operated underwater vehicle] camera for the first time, or understanding how the ocean waves, tides and currents are driven on the Irish continental shelf”.

She added that reproducing these natural oceanographic phenomena in lab experiments, applying mathematical models to explain them and applying these models to other areas, is another interesting part of the job. “I really enjoy getting a holistic understanding of the natural systems to better understand and explain even a small part of this natural phenomenon.”

Women in ocean and earth sciences

Joshi is also part of the Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering (WICGE) network, an international group of women geoscientists in academia and industry. “We recognise the challenges faced by women in ocean and earth sciences and coastal dynamics in particular,” she said.

In 2018, a study from the WICGE group found that although women make up almost a third of the coastal geoscience and engineering community, they represent only about one in five of its prestige roles. “This is due to the male-dominated nature of the science historically,” said Joshi.

The study highlighted gender inequality and experiences of gender bias in coastal geoscience and engineering but also proposed practical steps to address it, such as advocating for women in top roles and encouraging younger women to enter the discipline.  Among its findings, 81pc of those surveyed perceived the lack of female role models as a key hurdle for gender equity, and 47pc of women felt held back in their career due to gender, in comparison to 9pc of men.

Joshi also spoke about being “a minority within a minority within a minority”, as a British-Indian woman and a member of the LGBTQ community. “I have found a lot of perseverance is required when, for example, applying for a job or getting paid equally. It is difficult to talk about these things unless there is a support network out there to help us through these difficulties.”

However, when I asked Joshi if there was anything she wished she knew at the start of her career, she said: “Stay positive and don’t be afraid to be yourself.

It’s a wonderful world out there just waiting to be explored, so go out there and do what you need to do and let the science happen!”

Original piece is in Silicon Republic website

Girls Rock London Album Launch

For the last six months I have been working on my creative musical skills as part of the Girls Rock London Album Programme!!! Girls Rock London (GRL!) is an award-winning not-for-profit organisation that creates opportunities for women, girls, and trans and non-binary people to make and perform music. They provide high-quality music programming for young and adult women, trans, and non-binary people, with a specific focus on increasing access for people who face barriers to participation. Learn more about GRL here. The GRL album programme involves individuals coming together and taking part in a series of creative workshops and inspiration sessions. We ultimately form bands together and work on songs to release in the first ever GRL album!

This has been a truly inspirational experience, where I have had the opportunity to build on my bass guitar skills acquired long ago and learn to express ourselves through music. Whilst I have always loved to play the bass since picking it up in my teens, I made the mistake to give it up when I went to university. GRL is such a supportive community with so much scope for collaboration, developing and realising musical ideas. Now, as the bassist for our band, The Confusion Dilemma, we have written and composed our very own song recorded in a recording studio in London. Our very first live gig will take place in the Signature Brew music venue in Haggerston in London on 25th February 2023!!! Learn more about GRL here. Rock on from the recording studio!!

UPDATE! : The official GRL Compilation#1 album has now been released and our song Pacifist Piranha is available on Bandcamp here!

Introducing…. The Confusion Dilemma

Follow me on Spotify here

Pride in London

Our support group British Asian LGBTI took part in Pride In London with the Naz and Matt Foundation and found ourselves on the big screen at Piccadilly Circus in central London a number of times during the day! Thank you to the organisers of Pride in London for giving us this opportunity!!

An ode to the oceanography degree

Growing up listening to the sounds of the sea in a shell. The entire seascape captured within the delicate structure of the conch. The inspiration of nature drove me to continuously spend my head in the books when away from the ocean. We didn’t say studying- we said wonder. Wonder about the abyss, the deep blue ocean and its rich inhabitants. How they breathe, how they respire. Eating their way across the food web. A pioneering life history strategy they said- that was our vision. As a student of marine science, there was so much to learn- so much to inspire, digest and reflect upon. The continuous inspiration of the oceans drove me forward into the deep blue wilderness of the abyss. Where had I come from to do oceanography? From a place in my imagination so intrinsically connected with nature. A place unexplored where explorers seek to find wonder. Confronted with scientific understanding I looked to nature to find my muse. Paper after paper, searching for the vision of the natural world within my data. I learned to be a scientist, an ecologist mapping the shallows as well as the deep. Listening to the sea and all its glory I sat there wondering what could be done to save our oceans.

(I have been practicing writing creative nonfiction- here’s a short passage on studying oceanography)



This month I have decided to take part in the #30DayMapChallenge to consolidate my GIS mapping skills as well as think creatively about spatial data.

The idea is to create (and publish) maps based on different themes on each day of the month using the hashtag #30DayMapChallenge, You can prepare the maps beforehand, but the main idea is to publish maps from specific topics on specific days listed below. Just include a picture of the map when you post to Twitter with the hashtag. You don’t have to sign up anywhere to participate. There are no restrictions on the tools, technologies or the data you use in your maps. Doing less than 30 is also fine (doing all 30 is really hard!).


Find A Science Berth: NERC EDI Hackathon

After a lot of hard work, we’ve submitted our NERC EDI Hackathon proposal! If successful, http://findascienceberth.wordpress.com aims to increase the accessibility of obtaining ship berths by making use of spare capacity to provide training opportunities. Big shout out to the team: @BenFisher_ @KRHendry @AENMcGregor @SiddhiInGalway @allygully @DiverMads @KatieSieradzan @efdarlington @KJJVanLandeghem & Sophie Fielding for putting a lot of work in to this at a busy time of year, fingers crossed!