Julie McClean

Julie McClean, Research Associate Professor, Department of Oceanography, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, USA

Julie McClean standing in front of the Naval Oceanographic Offi ce’s IBM RS 16000 SP3 (HABU).

I first became involved in oceanography during my final undergraduate year at the University of Sydney, Australia. I was completing a second major in marine sciences, the other being applied mathematics with an emphasis on meteorology. At the break, the University took us to Northern Queensland to experience all the flavors of marine science fieldwork. Whether we were measuring river flow, collecting sediment cores, or squelching through mangrove swamps, I was totally enthralled and decided on oceanography as a career. These days, I spend my time in front of a computer. As a numerical modeler, I am always looking for more cycles and faster high-performance computing architectures on which to run high-resolution global ocean and ice models. These models afford us the opportunity to study the ocean at its true dynamical scales, thus providing a means of furthering our knowledge of ocean dynamics and climate change.

I have never once regretted pursuing oceanography and enjoy being an active researcher. The greatest professional challenge I have faced during my career has been establishing and maintaining a research program built entirely on research funding and obtaining sufficient resources for the computationally intensive numerical simulations on an ongoing basis. The outcome of these efforts, however, has been personally rewarding and I believe they are of value to those who use the global simulations to further their research. On a personal note, my oceanographer husband and I are employed at institutions some three hours drive apart; consequently we live separately during the week. And, of course, I live on the other side of the planet from my family. Flying back to Australia as often as possible helps to overcome the reality that I am not “around the corner” and allows me to see my nephew grow up.I have seen many changes over the last 25 years in the representation of women in my subdiscipline. When I was a graduate student in Australia, there were no senior-level women in physical oceanography. From my perspective, the number of women in oceanography in the United States has increased significantly since I attended my first American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in 1986. Our numbers are still small, however, relative to those of our male colleagues at some of the specialty meetings. Hopefully, active recruitment and mentoring of younger women will improve this representation.