People of OHI: Erin O'Reilly

by Erin O'Reilly

Erin O'Reilly is the new Communications Coordinator for the Ocean Health Index (OHI).


Describe your role or involvement with OHI.

I showcase the importance of the OHI framework to various audiences and share stories of its impact.

Give us a one-word description of how you work.


What are your essential apps, software, or tools?

Google Calendar is an absolute essential for me. It’s how I keep track of everything from due dates to meetings to my gym schedule. If it’s not in my calendar, it’s likely not going to happen. I also heavily rely on Trello to keep track of both short- and long-term deadlines. As a person who loves making lists, Trello provides a great project management software in the form of online sticky notes you can organize into columns and add notes, due dates, and labels.

Working in science communication, I also spend a lot of time in the Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign) designing outreach documents. I also run both the @OceanHealthIndx and @OHIscience twitter accounts, and Tweetdeck provides a platform for me to schedule tweets and keep track of notifications for both accounts.

What is your personal story behind why you do what you do?

I fell in love with the ocean at a young age, spending a lot of time at Southern California beaches and aquariums. My path to becoming a marine scientist was solidified on a high school trip to Costa Rica where I worked with leatherback sea turtles. Once I held back the flipper of a sea turtle giving birth, I knew I wanted to devote my life to marine conservation and I haven’t looked back since.

What aspect of your work are you most proud of?

I am just three months into the job, but I am excited to enhance the voice of OHI by highlighting our success stories around the world and featuring members of our unique and diverse team. While my background is in marine science, I see communication as a way to bridge the gap between scientists, managers, and the public. People connect with each other through storytelling, so I am excited to tell the story of OHI.


Where are you originally from and where do you live now?

I am a California girl through and through. I was born in Pasadena, CA (think Rose Bowl) and now live in Santa Barbara, CA.

What could you present about for 40-minutes with absolutely no preparation?

Bridging science and management in the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (the subject of my master’s thesis), Bravo tv shows, the best places I have ever eaten

What are 5 things you can’t live without?

The ocean, Google Calendar, Burts Bees chapstick, Hydroflask water bottle, tacos

What is one of the most inspiring places you’ve been?

While Costa Rica influenced me to become a marine scientist, one of the more inspiring experiences was getting scuba certified off Anacapa Island, one of the Channel Islands located off the coast of Santa Barbara. It was the first time I was able to fully explore the underwater world and witness the success of a Marine Protected Area (MPA). This led me to study MPAs throughout undergrad and grad school, and also become an AAUS scientific diver.

What are some of your favorite hobbies when you’re not traveling or working?

Going to the beach, yoga, hiking, scuba diving, cooking (excited to try out my new dumpling cookbook), relaxing in my hammock, swimming, exploring new cities (and their local food and drinks!)

What’s the most interesting thing you have read or watched this week?

I am currently reading Cooked by Michael Pollan and watching its corresponding Netflix series. Pollan explores how cooking transforms food and shapes our world through the four elements - fire, water, air, earth. I love cooking (and eating), so it is fascinating to learn about the science, history, and culture behind cooking.

What is the best meal you have ever cooked?

I have never cooked any elaborate meals, but my go to favorite has to be pasta, peas, and bacon. And this isn’t a meal, but I do make an amazing key lime pie! I even unanimously won a pie making contest at my job in undergrad (University of Miami).

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