“I have been lucky – I have had nothing but support in my scientist career”

Laura Brindle is Satellite Operations and Data Manager with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Centre (CSIRO) for Earth Observation in Australia. She has been interviewed for International Women’s Day by Spatial Source, the independent news service for the Australasian surveying and spatial sectors.

Q: How did you get into this field, and what attracted you to it?

A: “I completed an MSc in Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Management, which provided me with an introduction to earth observation (EO) and geographical information systems (GIS), showcasing their applications in assessing and analysing the world. Fascinated by the vast number of applications of EO data, I was determined to pursue a career in the field.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

A: “I remain captivated by the diverse applications of EO data. NovaSAR-1 data, for instance, has been utilised across various domains, ranging from flood and bushfire monitoring to iceberg tracking and ship detection. It also contributes to land-use analysis and vegetation monitoring and the decarbonisation efforts of rice paddies.

“I appreciate CSIRO’s commitment to making data freely accessible, eliminating financial barriers for students and researchers. This enables them to concentrate on scientific innovation without concerns about budgetary constraints.”

Q: Are there any personal qualities or attributes that are helpful to have in this field?

A: “Thriving under pressure and adapting swiftly have proven crucial, particularly in environments where priorities shift frequently. During my time on call 24/7, especially in disaster response scenarios, these abilities were essential. Additionally, logical thinking and meticulous attention to detail have been vital in developing workflows, formulating satellite tasking strategies and overseeing comprehensive databases of image products.

“Given the interdisciplinary nature of EO and space industries, networking with professionals across various fields is also beneficial.”

Q: As a woman, have you had any struggles during your career? Conversely, have you had support?

A: “I have been lucky and had nothing but support in my career. At DMCii my team was predominately women and even after the merger with Airbus UK, where the environment was more male dominated, there were still numerous women occupying leadership positions. During this period, I successfully completed the Airbus ILM certified Management Development Program alongside several other women.

“Since joining CSIRO, I have been fortunate to work with several high-achieving women who have given every support and encouraged me to thrive.”

Find out more about Laura’s work as a satellite scientist including when she became the emergency on-call officer for The International Charter Space and Major Disasters – and read four more inspiring stories from female geospatial scientists here.

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