Whether it be about climate or gender issues, Freya Garry wants you to have the information you need.
As a climate scientist at the U.K.’s Met Office, Garry interprets the projections of Met Office climate models for federal agencies and industrial sectors. She also cofounded the Women in Climate network, a community-led group, to advance gender equity in science.
Garry grew up on the rugged coastline of the Isle of Man, an island between Great Britain and Ireland. Her parents owned a dry cleaning shop and often took her canoeing on lakes and rivers. In her late teens, she scuba-dived frequently, seeing lobsters, eels, and basking sharks. Garry noted that she attended publicly funded schools. “A lot of people in science that I’ve encountered went to private schools and come from well-off families,” she said. “It is important to me to highlight that I did not have that schooling, to help encourage people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds to pursue science as a career.”
“My experiences there, seeing how different life is for so many people in this world, have really influenced my understanding of the impacts that climate change will have for the Global South.”
After completing high school, she worked in financial administration, eyeing college degrees. She also volunteered at a primary school near Arusha, Tanzania, teaching math, English, and science. “My experiences there, seeing how different life is for so many people in this world, have really influenced my understanding of the impacts that climate change will have for the Global South,” Garry said.
Her love of the ocean and interest in climate change led to an integrated master’s (a 4-year program that combines undergraduate and graduate courses) in oceanography at the University of Southampton. She stayed on for a doctoral degree in oceanography, and that’s when her ties to the Met Office, the United Kingdom’s national weather service, began. The agency funded part of her degree, and soon after finishing it, she headed to the Met Office’s home city for a postdoctoral position at the University of Exeter.
By then, Garry had grown tired of surface-level discussions of gender and science, so she and friend Penelope Maher launched the Women in Climate network. The network hosts book clubs, career talks by established scientists, and workshops (on tools like comedy for climate communication) aimed at women, nonbinary people, and men.
Around this time, Garry considered what to do after her postdoc. Met Office jobs pay less than university positions, she said, but they don’t require early-career scientists to move around. The agency also offers scientists a permanent job instead of a temporary post, ample holiday leave, and a strong focus on work-life balance and well-being. For these reasons, she took the leap and enjoys this role, where she wears many hats. Recently, for instance, she spoke virtually to an agronomy conference to discuss climate’s effects on U.K. agriculture.
This profile is part of a special series in our August 2022 issue on science careers.
—Jenessa Duncombe (@jrdscience), Staff Writer