Joanna Smart

Scholar Date: 
2019 to 2020

Joanna, 22, is from the seaside town of Hobart on Australia’s southern island, Tasmania. Her early memories of the ocean involve finding sea creatures in rock pools, fishing, and snorkelling through the giant kelp forests that once covered the Tasmanian coastline.

Eager to continue exploring, Joanna obtained her Open Water Scuba license at the age of 13. During her high school years, Joanna’s passion for marine life, science and scuba diving continued. She completed her Advanced Open Water, Rescue Diver and Divemaster training. She also undertook an independent research project as part of her Tasmanian Certificate of Education, exploring the impacts of invasive marine pests in Tasmanian waters.

Joanna balanced her schooling with a passion for swimming, where she spent several years with the Tasmanian Institute of Sport. She later moved this passion to the ocean and went on to win the Tasmanian Iron Woman Championship. Joanna was awarded an academic scholarship at the University of Tasmania in 2015, graduating in 2018 with a Bachelor of Marine and Antarctic Science majoring in Marine Biology and Marine and Antarctic Ecology, earning a place on the Dean’s honour roll.

During this time, Joanna undertook scientific diving training with certifications from ADAS and AAUS and completed her PADI open water scuba Instructor’s certification. Whilst completing her degree, Joanna worked as a deckhand and naturalist for an eco tour company, as a Field Assistant in Palau and as an assistant technical officer for the University of Tasmania.

Upon completion of her degree, Joanna commenced work as a Project Officer for a marine environmental consultancy. This work has allowed Joanna to learn about oft-forgotten aspects of effective marine conservation including marine development impacts, aquaculture, and waste water management. In conjunction with her work as a project officer, Joanna has been completing an honours thesis exploring how seaweed farming can be used to uptake excess aquaculture effluent. This project aims to develop a species selection index which aims to assist researchers and farmers in selecting the most suitable seaweeds for culturing, whilst also minimising environmental impact of the overall operation.

Joanna is honoured to represent Rolex and OWUSS as the 2019 Australasian Scholar and is incredibly grateful for this amazing opportunity. Throughout the year, she hopes to explore sustainable solutions to issues facing the marine environment and the empowerment of ocean-dependent communities.