Rachel KELLY, PhD Student in Marine Socio-Ecology (Ireland)

By linking social license with citizen science in her research, Rachel Kelly aims to increase engagement and sustainable development in the marine sector and in the fishing industry.


Research focus: the social licence of marine resources

The earth’s marine environments are threatened by climate change, pollution, over-exploitation and other challenges. In order to protect this valuable natural resource for the future, sustainable management of the marine sector is necessary. Kelly’s research focuses on the concept of social licence within the Australian marine sector. Through her studies, she aims to improve community knowledge and engagement in local marine industries using citizen science.

With her cross-disciplinary approach, Kelly positions the community as an important stakeholder of the earth’s oceanic environments and promotes collaborative exchange across disciplines between diverse, ‘conflicting’ groups. Her objective is to investigate diverse perspectives about the ocean and the uses that exist within the community in order to develop methods for influencing them by applying engagement techniques, including citizen science.

With a background in marine biodiversity and conservation, Kelly is currently a PhD student of marine socio-ecology at the University of Tasmania, Australia. During her academic career, she has received numerous awards honouring her scientific achievements. In 2016, she was chosen for the TAS AMSA Student Travel Award by the Australian Marine Sciences Association. For her PhD studies, she was granted the Centre for Marine Socio-Ecology Scholarship. Kelly is also an experienced marine biologist, having previously worked with Soneva Fushi Resort in Maldives.

The jury was impressed by Kelly’s novel, application-oriented approach, influencing the future theoretical understanding of social licence and citizen science. The knowledge gained through her research will have an impact on the sustainable management of marine fisheries. The Science Forum in Germany will provide Kelly with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge in her scientific field through research development, networking and peer-sharing experiences.