Sabrina Speich

Sabrina Speich

Professor of Oceanography and Climate Science and Dean of Studies of the Department of Geosciences,

Ecole Normale Supérieure of Paris, France

“Women were never the majority in Physical Oceanography or Climate Science. (…) However, I am seeing since less than a decade, a clear positive trend with more women in the field and as crewmembers on research vessels.”


Dr Speich is an internationally recognized expert with over 20 years of experience in ocean modeling and in organizing programs of in-situ observations, contributing to fostering knowledge on ocean, climate and ecosystems functioning and interactions. She is also co-chair of the CLIVAR Atlantic Regional Panel and member of the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique of the Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace and other international panels.

Why oceanography?

Dr Sabrina Speich inherited her passion for the sea from her father with whom she sailed from an early age. After immersing into Physics during high school years, she pursued a Bachelor and Master degrees in Physics and a PhD in Physical oceanography.  She started working on fundamental ocean dynamics, but very quickly felt that ocean dynamics played a key role in climate and in marine ecosystems, albeit it was not well understood. She therefore thought that the only way to progress in our knowledge was to approach it by both, modeling and observing.

Overcoming challenges

Her biggest encountered challenge was the amount of time to be dedicated to research or to participate in international scientific panels. This was not only due to her being a mother of three children with two of them being twins, but also to the fact that as a French University Professor she always had a very important load of teaching and administrative duties. Yet, while she worked hard, her husband, who is a scientist too, supported her through the career and shared family responsibilities.

Advice to young female scientists

  • Do not feel belonging to a specific gender, you are just a scientist and human being
  • Believe in yourself and your capacities
  • Speak out your ideas and disagreement whenever you feel it, including with higher hierarchical representatives.

Interviewed in May 2019