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From a MSc to the MSC: marine biologist Maylynn Nunn joins RealScientists – Real Scientists

From a MSc to the MSC: marine biologist Maylynn Nunn joins RealScientists

By now you’re probably getting the picture that as important to @RealScientists as the people who do science are the people who do things WITH science – whether that’s to teach, to entertain, to inform, to set policy – because science doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and if it falls in a forest and noone hears it was it really just a waste of research funding, or something. Science needs allies in those places, who understand why science is important and advocate for its use in decision making. One of our allies is Maylynn Nunn, who’s our curator for this coming week.

Maylynn Nunn

Maylynn narrowly escaped the Attack of the 50 Foot Lampshades

Maylynn grew up as a wild child playing in the mud and hills of Calgary, Canada as a first generation Canadian to immigrant parents from Germany and the Philippines. She was given a microscope kit at a young age and paired with her voracious appetite for books and thirst for knowledge, this set her up for a lifelong love of science.

Maylynn did her undergraduate science degree at UBC in Vancouver in the Natural Resource Conservation programme. Although she dearly loved the scientific side of things, excelling in the lab and in the field but being miserable in lecture halls, Maylynn decided that she wanted to be where the changes were made and decided to pursue a career in policy, specializing in international fisheries and trade. In her view (and ours), someone could be the most brilliant scientist in the world, but that scientific outcomes can be completely ignored if policymakers just don’t take them on board – and this fear of science being ignored drove her to work in policy, to try and create change for scientific policymaking.

After starting out for a few years working as a researcher for TRAFFIC Canada on international wildlife trade and at the UBC Fisheries Centre, an academic research centre for fisheries science and policy, Maylynn moved to the UK to do a Masters of Science at the London School of Economics. This was an MSc but a drop straight into the deep end for a scientist, into the political science world. With a Distinction for her thesis on international shark conservation and trade, after graduating Maylynn was well-placed to take up work with TRAFFIC International in Cambridge as Research Officer on international wildlife trade and fisheries issues. Being with this small, trusted, objective science-based NGO provided amazing opportunities for interaction and work with the European Commission, EU Member State governments, Customs and Police and international delegations at meetings of CITES and the UN FAO.

After a few years with TRAFFIC Maylynn was keen to have more of a fisheries focus and took a role with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) on their scientific and technical team in London as Fisheries Assessment Manager. After a few years Maylynn moved to Sydney and is now the Senior Fisheries Assessment Manager, Asia Pacific with the MSC, which is the perfect overlap of fisheries science, economics and international policy for her interests.

In this role with the third-party standard setting body, Maylynn oversees independent assessments of fisheries sustainability carried out by scientists around the world, against the MSC Fisheries Standard. Her current fisheries oversight role includes tuna and other RFMO-managed fisheries, as well as all the fisheries in Australia, NZ and the Asia Pacific. Maylynn also develops new policy for the MSC as fisheries science and best practice fisheries management and international standard setting changes around the world, including parts of the current review of the entire MSC Fisheries Standard. She also gives workshops and training sessions to communicate on fisheries science and certification to the fishing industry, fisheries managers and scientists, governments and stakeholders across the Asia Pacific. With a growing interest in science communication, Maylynn is interested in learning more about how to successfully communicate complicated ideas to a wide variety of people in the most effective way – and thinks there should be a specific word for that in the English language.


Here’s a picture (worth 1000 words at current exchange rates) of Maylynn successfully communicating complicated ideas to a wide variety of people in a most effective way. She’s right, we totally need a word for this

She is also passionate about motorcycles, diving, long-distance running, beekeeping, equality, anything science-related (the geekier the better), her husband and her dog and has an alternative career moonlighting as an internationally renowned bellydancer and dance instructor.


Maylynn rides Kawasakis, a brand renown for their reliability

Welcome Maylynn to RealScientists for another curated week of sustainably-sourced awesome!


James is a recovering scientist and escaped postdoc who works in research management at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He's now retired from active @RealScientists duty, after serving from the project's beginnings in 2013 through to mid 2015. When not managing research, surviving #PlanetParenthood or pretending not to be an expat Australian in the Deep South of NZ, he tweets @theotherdrsmith.

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1 Response

  1. July 29, 2013

    […] Hence nobody was more thrilled than me to welcome Maylynn Nunn to the helm at RealScientists this week. […]

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