Dr Vanessa Pirotta


Dr Vanessa Pirotta

Wildlife Scientist

Rapiscan Systems
Macquarie University

Dr Vanessa Pirotta is a wildlife scientist and science communicator. Her research uses innovative technologies for wildlife conservation.

Vanessa’s zoological background has taken her around the world for wildlife research. Notable projects Vanessa has worked on include leading pioneering research in collaboration with industry experts to develop custom-built, waterproof drones to collect whale snot (lung bacteria) for an assessment of whale health. Vanessa is also a primary investigator on a major wildlife trafficking detection project with Rapiscan Systems, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and Taronga Zoo.

The most satisfying part of Vanessa’s work is learning something new every day, using practical skills such as driving boats and making science accessible through science communication. Her keen interests cover topics of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, also known as STEAM.

Career highlights include representing Australia internationally as the national winner of a world-renowned science communication competition known as FameLab, where she placed second in the world. Dr Pirotta has spoken as an invited marine mammal expert at the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome, Italy and has presented her research via the TEDx platform. Vanessa’s dedication to outreach within schools and with science professionals has seen her recognized as one of the top 100 Women of Influence judged by the Australian Financial Review.

Vanessa enjoys communicating science through various platforms. She has authored multiple international peer reviewed scientific publications, writes for The Conversation and has provided expert comment for various media outlets. Notable media appearances include BBC World News television, CBS America, ABC, SBS, Al Jazeera and Reuters. She one day hopes to present a factual science documentary to help inspire younger generations into science.