Feb 12, 2024 | News,Team Cooke | Return to News


In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, meet some of the talented and brilliant women who are driving innovation, sustainability and excellence throughout our global family of companies!

Tara Cooke
Laboratory Technologist | Cooke Aquaculture – Canada

What does a typical day look like – if there is such a thing?
Every day is a little bit different but most days I am logging samples for testing and performing tests to make sure our fish are healthy.  Some days I work at the microscope. Other days I’m doing PCR testing or looking for algae in water samples.

What inspired you to work with fish?
I spent a lot of time around the ocean growing up and was always interested in aquatic animals.

What are the best or most rewarding parts of your job?
I think of every case like a mystery and I’m looking for evidence to help solve the case.  It’s always rewarding when my test results help the veterinarians reach a diagnosis.

Are there certain skills or characteristics that someone needs to do what you do?
You have to be able to read a test procedure and understand it in order to do a test correctly. Being organized helps a lot. Noticing details is important and problem solving is essential because in the lab things don’t always go the way you expect them to!

What advice do you have for girls who are considering a career in animal health or any science?
Make sure you get a good foundation in different science courses in school, be curious and go for it!


Megan Cote
Lumpfish Hatchery Technician | Cooke Aquaculture USA

What inspired you to work with fish?
I went to the University of Maine at Machias where I received my science degree in marine biology. My courses were very hands-on, and I spent much of my time in labs and out in the field. I knew that was the line of work I wanted to be in right away.

What are the best or most rewarding parts of your job?
Being a part of the new lumpfish hatchery is such an exciting experience. I’m learning something new every day and can’t wait to put that to use when our facility is up and running.

Are there certain skills or characteristics that someone needs to do what you do?
I think it’s important to be passionate about lumpfish or aquaculture husbandry in general. Someone should also have a go-with-the-flow attitude and be ready for something new each day.

What advice do you have for girls who are considering a career in animal health or any science?
The same thing I’d tell myself – go for it. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.


Jen Ford
Lumpfish Hatchery Manager | Cooke Aquaculture USA

What inspired you to work with fish?
Biology was always my favourite subject in school, particularly Marine Biology (even though we lived hours away from the ocean) and I grew up wanting to be a vet. But sometimes life takes you in a different direction.
I was raised on a farm (sheep and pigs), always lived on a farm but fish kind of happened by accident. I was in construction doing a lot of commuting and looking for a job closer to home. Friends worked in aquaculture and suggested I apply so I did, got the job and absolutely loved it from day one. I started out on the sea sites before moving to the hatchery (closer to home).

What are the best or most rewarding parts of your job?
Sourcing a particularly hard to find part! I really enjoy being part of this project pretty much from the ground up and having a hand in the construction and assembly of every aspect of the new hatchery. It’s still very much a learning curve for anyone involved and it’s exciting to be part of that and to work closely with the research facilities.

Are there certain skills or characteristics that someone needs in order to do what you do?
You have to enjoy a challenge, have a genuine interest in not only the fish we’re raising but the people you work with, and you have to love not really knowing what the day will bring! Fish aquaculture is science-based, and there are so many interesting aspects of a career in this innovative field of growing local food.

What advice do you have for girls who are considering a career in animal health or any science?
Find a way to get some job shadowing or volunteering time in in the field you’re interested in. And ask lots of questions.


Ligia Gonzalez Leiva 
Genetics Data An

alysis | Cooke España

Describe your current role with Cooke Aquaculture?

Principalmente me dedico a potenciar la genética de nuestros peces.
Básicamente, uso mis conocimientos y habilidades en matemáticas y estadísticas para ser una especie de ‘matchmaker’ para peces, pero genéticamente.
Analizo datos para encontrar a los mejores candidatos. La idea es criar peces poco emparentados que tengan las mejores características para obtener los mejores rendimientos productivos.
Además de la m

ejora genética, también tengo un papel fundamental en el análisis estadístico de desafíos o ensayos con peces, evaluando con precisión el impacto de diversas variables en su comportamiento y salud.

Todo esto contribuye a producir peces de alta calidad en Cooke Aquaculture.

Primarily, I focus on enhancing the genetics of our fish. Essentially, I use my knowledge and skills in mathematics and statistics to act as a kind of “matchmaker” for fish, but genetically.
I analyze data to identify the best candidates. The idea is to breed fish that have the best characteristics for achieving optimal productivity.
In addition, I play a vital role in the statistical analysis of challenges or trials with fish, accurately assessing the impact of various variables on their behavior and health.
All of this contributes to producing high-quality fish at Cooke Aquaculture.

What does a typical day look like – if there is such a thing?
¡No hay un día típico, siempre hay algo nuevo qué aprender o hacer!
Por lo general paso el día diseñando experimentos, recopilando, depurando, analizando datos mediante metodologías estadísticas avanzadas.
También desarrollo

código para llevar a cabo un análisis exhaustivo y preciso de los datos recopilados.
Todo esto se realiza en colaboración con el equipo de investigación para asegurar que obtengamos respuestas sólidas y avancemos en nuestro trabajo de manera efectiva.

There’s no typical day; there’s always something new to learn or do!
Generally, I spend my day designing experiments, collecting, cleaning, and analyzing data using advanced statistical methodologies.
I also develop code to conduct a thorough and precise analysis of the collected data.
All of this is done in collaboration with the research team to ensure we obtain solid answers and progress in our work effectively.

What inspired you to work with fish?
En realidad, fue toda una casualidad, llegué pensando que daría una formación estadística, pero resultó que necesitaban a alguien para analizar datos de acuicultura.
Resultó siendo muy interesante, poder aplicar mis conocimientos estadísticos a datos reales, especialmente a datos tan dinámicos y cambiantes, al tratarse de seres vivos.
Desde entonces, he encontrado una conexión entre mi formación en matemáticas y el mundo de las granjas de Acuicultura.

It was quite accidental; I arrived thinking I would provide statistical training, but it turned out they needed someone to analyze aquaculture data.
It ended up being very interesting, being able to apply my statistical knowledge to real data, especially to such dynamic and changing data, dealing with living beings.
Since then, I’ve found a connection between my mathematics background and the world of fish farming.

What are the best or most rewarding parts of your job?
Es verdadera mente gratificante cuando los resultados que obtienes toman sentido y contribuyen a la toma de decisiones estratégicas de la empresa.
La sensación de poder contribuir al éxito general de la empresa y saber que tu trabajo realmente importa es lo que hace que todo valga la pena.

It’s truly gratifying when the results you obtain make sense and contribute to the strategic decision-making of the company.
The feeling of being able to contribute to the overall success of the company and knowing that your work truly matters is what makes it all worthwhile.

Are there certain skills or characteristics that someone needs to do what you do?

¡Claro! como en cualquier área de trabajo se necesita habilidades específicas.
En mi caso, además de tener habilidad analítica, conocimientos matemáticos/estadísticos y habilidad en el manejo de herramientas informáticas lo cual se consigue con esfuerzo y dedicación; lo importante es ser curioso, tener un pensamiento lógico, estar atento a los detalles y no perder la paciencia.

Are there certain skills or characteristics that someone needs to do what you do?
Certainly! Like in any work area, specific skills are required.
In my case, besides having analytical skills, mathematical/statistical knowledge, and proficiency in handling computer tools, which are achieved through effort and dedication. The important thing is to be curious, have logical thinking, pay attention to details, and not lose patience.

What advice do you have for girls who are considering a career 

in animal health or any science?
Haz lo que realmente te apasiona, porque el avance solo ocurre cuando estás motivada.
Si tienes alguna duda, ¡pregunta! Busca personas que puedan inspirarte, orientarte y apoyarte; este es el camino hacia tu desarrollo profesional.
Enfrenta cada nuevo de

safío que surja, así fortalecerás tu camino para poder avanzar.
Mantente actualizada, estudia, lee, aprende, ya que la ciencia avanza a pasos agigantados.

Do what really excites you, because progress only happens when you are motivated.
If you have any doubt, ask! Seek out people who can inspire, guide, and support you; this is the path to your professional development.
Face every new challenge that arises, in this way, you will strengthen your path to be able to move forward.
Stay updated, study, read, learn, as science advances by leaps and bounds.


Rhona Robertson
Lab Co-ordinator | Cooke Aquaculture Scotland

How did you become a Lab Co-ordinator with Cooke Aquaculture Scotland?
After graduating with a degree in Biological Sciences from Glasgow Caledonian University, I worked for several years gaining skills and experience working for a contract research company in Stirling. I started working for Cooke Aquaculture Scotland in April 2014.

What are some of your typical duties?
Day-to-day I am scheduling and running Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests in the lab and doing site visits to perform health checks on our freshwater farms.
I have also taken part in school visits to educate pupils and I recently went to the Inveraray Primary School which is local to where our lab is. The class were already starting to look at inherited genetics and the teacher reached out to ask if I could help them with an introduction to DNA.

What would you say to any of the female students hoping to pursue a career in a science-based profession?
Go for it!

When did you know you wanted to be a Lab Co-ordinator and why? What inspired you?
Not a Lab Co-ordinator as such but I wanted to do hands-on work in a laboratory of some description.
I loved biology at school. My former biology teacher – Mrs Maisie – probably did more than most to nurture an interest in science and encourage me to pursue a science-based career.

What are the best or most rewarding parts of your job?
I enjoy setting up and validating new assays to be used as a tool for our health team. I also like getting out and about on the freshwater farms to see the fish and building good relationships with farm staff and managers.

Are there certain skills or characteristics that a Lab Co-ordinator must have?
A Lab Co-ordinator should be able to work independently and with others. Being organised is essential in this role as well as having good time management.
You need to be up for testing and trying different methods and techniques, as well as looking into new innovative technologies.


Sarah Cowie
Fish Health Assistant | Cooke Aquaculture Scotland

How did you become a Fish Health Assistant with Cooke Aquaculture?
I started working in aquaculture in 2019 as a site assistant with no previous experience in the sector. I decided to apply because I love to work outdoors, enjoy being on the sea and I’m passionate about animal welfare. Part of my job as a site assistant was to train to be the fish health specialist for the specific site. This included learning about plankton and zooplankton. I really enjoyed the fish health side of my job and wanted to expand my knowledge within fish health so I started working for Cooke Aquaculture Scotland in April 2023 and now I cover all of the sites in the Orkney region along with my manager.

What are some of your typical duties?
I carry out regular visits to all of our Orkney sea sites to check the health and welfare of our stock. I take fish health samples when required, carry out regular water sampling to look for phytoplankton and zooplankton around our sites and I report everything to the Fish Health managers.

When did you know you wanted to be a Fish Health Assistant and why? What inspired you?
I don’t think it was very long after I started in the industry that I knew I wanted to be a part of fish health full-time. I found it very interesting. For me, the welfare of the fish is the most important aspect of the job and I wanted to be part of ensuring the fish have the best quality of life in a growing and sustainable industry whilst learning on the job.

What are the best or most rewarding parts of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job would be that I help our team to ensure our fish have the highest quality of life. Knowing that what we do is part of one of the most sustainable ways of farming is a great feeling. I get to work with a supportive and friendly team who are very knowledgeable and I also get to travel to different islands every week where I sometimes get to see lots of wildlife whilst out on the water.

Are there certain skills or characteristics that a Fish Health Assistant must have?
Good communication is a key skill that a Fish Health Assistant should have as well as being able to work well with others. We work in a small team but also work closely with site teams.
Being sympathetic and caring about the welfare of animals is another key characteristic of a person in this profession.
You have to be willing to work outdoors and at sea as the majority of the job includes going out to sea sites on small work boats all year round.
Being keen to learn new things is also important, as there is always new research going on and lots to learn.


Stephanie Sinclair
Environmental Officer | Cooke Aquaculture Scotland

How did you become an Environmental Officer with Cooke Aquaculture Scotland?
In 2021, I got a job as a technician at a hatchery in Shetland, while studying a part-time Open University degree in Environmental Science. I had no aquaculture experience when I started but got all the training I needed on the job and my employer was supportive of my interest in the scientific aspects of the hatchery, like water quality and fish health. Eighteen months later, I got the opportunity for a 12-month secondment to the Environment team which I gladly took, and which gave me the experience needed to be successful in my application to be a permanent Environmental Officer at Cooke Scotland.

What are some of your typical duties?
The main part of my job is to carry out seabed surveys – taking sediment samples to make sure that our farms are complying with environmental regulations. I also carry out surveys with specialised equipment to measure ocean currents and waves and spend time in the office analysing data and working on other exciting projects.

When did you know you wanted to be an Environmental Officer and why? What inspired you?
I was drawn to an environmental career because it feels important in the face of everything going on in the world today. At the start, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, but around the same time I started my Environmental Science degree, I saw an environment role advertised by an aquaculture company and realised there was a potential career there. I have always been interested in the marine environment, so becoming an Environmental Officer in aquaculture seemed like a great way to combine my passion and skills.

What are the best or most rewarding parts of your job?
I’ve been lucky enough to see whales and dolphins many times while out surveying, which is always an amazing experience. The balance of field and office work is also satisfying and keeps things interesting – being out on a survey in the summer hardly feels like work at all (but of course, surveys also happen in winter!).

Are there certain skills or characteristics that an Environmental Officer must have?
An Environmental Officer must have a keen eye for detail and be very organised. Preparation and accurate record-keeping are key to success in survey work. Good computer skills are desirable in any scientific field, and some knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) goes a long way in my role.

What advice would you give women looking to start a career in the aquaculture sector, or progress their existing career?
My advice would be to just apply for a role that interests you. Aquaculture is a global industry with a wide range of required skills from science and engineering to IT, finance, and farming – there is something for everyone. In my experience, there’s a lot of flexibility to get involved in the things that interest you and there are always opportunities to pick up skills and knowledge that you can use to progress your career.


Natalia Poblete Arias
Bióloga Marina | Cooke Chile

Natalia Poblete Arias es Bióloga Marina, tiene 33 años y es Asistente de Centro Mar en Cooke Chile. En el Día Internacional de las Mujeres y las Niñas en la Ciencia, nos relata su experiencia y trabajo en acuicultura.

“Mi cargo es Asistente de Alimentación y aunque mis principales funciones están vinculadas a la alimentación, también debo saber todo lo relativo al funcionamiento del centro y colaborar con el equipo para lograr los objetivos del ciclo.

Nunca un día es igual a otro, la dinámica del mar se refleja en la dinámica laboral del centro. Aun así, puedo decir que lo más frecuente es verificar los parámetros ambientales, tomar muestras, organizar nuestra jornada laboral, alimentar a los peces, trabajar en equipo para lograr los objetivos y al final del día ingresar los datos productivos y generar informes para reportar la actividad diaria.

Me inspira trabajar con peces, porque desde pequeña visitaba el mar con frecuencia, la inmensidad del mar y sus detalles en el intermareal costero, me cautivaron. Con los años entendí que mi pasión estaba vinculada con el conocimiento y la libertad, por eso estudié biología marina. Al finalizar el pregrado, entendí que el mundo necesita producción de alimentos y que esta producción debe ir vinculada a la ciencia y la sostenibilidad de los recursos.

Mi formación como Bióloga Marina es la base para desempeñar mi labor en la producción de peces con consciencia ambiental y humana, reconociendo la necesidad de hacer las cosas bien tanto por el medio ambiente, como por cubrir la necesidad de alimento de calidad para los seres humanos.

Una de las cosas más gratificantes de mi trabajo siempre será recibir el cariño de las personas con las que trabajo, ser un equipo y no un grupo. Poder estar inmersa en paisajes tan maravillosos como el Fiordo Cupquelan es impagable, junto a ello, tener la posibilidad de avistar fauna marina y avifauna, me hace sentir feliz. Finalmente, pero no menos importante, obtener buenos resultados productivos a pesar de las dificultades que pudieran presentarse durante el ciclo productivo.

Para trabajar en el mar, hay que ser capaz de trabajar en equipo, debemos confiar nuestra vida a nuestros compañeros y ser capaces de sentirnos responsables también de la vida de las personas que nos rodean. Estar lejos de casa no es fácil, por lo tanto, debemos ser resilientes y tener la capacidad de encontrar soluciones rápidas pero razonables.

A las niñas que estén considerando una carrera en las ciencias, les diría que perduren en sus ideales, el camino en la ciencia para las mujeres está siendo pavimentado, cada vez somos más mujeres presentes en el rubro salmonero y en la ciencia cada día tomamos más protagonismo, se debe perseverar, los resultados esperados tardan en llegar, pero llegan y es gratificante recibirlos”.


Natalia Poblete Arias
Marine Biologist | Cooke Chile

Natalia Poblete Arias is a Marine Biologist and a Sea Center Assistant at Cooke Chile. On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, she tells us about her experience and work in aquaculture.

“My position is Food Assistant and although my main functions are linked to food, I must also know everything related to the operation of the center and collaborate with the team to achieve the objectives of the cycle.

One day is never the same as another, the dynamics of the sea are reflected in the work dynamics of the center. Even so, I can say that the most frequent thing is to check the environmental parameters, take samples, organize our workday, feed the fish, work as a team to achieve the objectives and at the end of the day enter the productive data and generate reports to report the daily activity.

Working with fish inspires me, because since I was little, I visited the sea frequently, the immensity of the sea and its details in the coastal intertidal zone captivated me. Over the years I understood that my passion was linked to knowledge and freedom, that’s why I studied marine biology. At the end of the undergraduate degree, I understood that the world needs food production and that this production must be linked to science and the sustainability of resources.

My training as a Marine Biologist is the basis for carrying out my work in the production of fish with environmental and human awareness, recognizing the need to do things well both for the environment and to cover the need for quality food for human beings.

One of the most rewarding things about my job will always be receiving the love of the people I work with, being a team and not a group. Being able to be immersed in landscapes as wonderful as the Cupquelan Fjord is priceless. Along with this, having the possibility of seeing marine fauna and birds makes me feel happy. Last, but not least, obtaining good productive results despite the difficulties that may arise during the production cycle.

To work at sea, we must be able to work as a team, we must trust our lives to our colleagues and be able to also feel responsible for the lives of the people around us. Being far from home is not easy, therefore, we must be resilient and have the ability to find quick but reasonable solutions.

To the girls who are considering a career in science, I would tell them to persist in their ideals. The path in science for women is being paved and more and more women are present in the salmon industry and in science every day. You must persevere. Results take time to arrive, but they arrive, and it is gratifying to receive them.”