This week, we’re celebrating women in science ahead of International Day of Girls and Women in Science on Friday, 11 February. Today’s woman in science is Research Coordinator, Dr Kathy Baker.
What is your role at Wild Planet Trust?
I am the Research Coordinator, based at Newquay Zoo. My main role includes teaching on degree courses through Cornwall College, coordinating research students and developing new research projects.
How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up fascinated by animals and was addicted to wildlife documentaries and The Really Wild Show. As a lot of kids do, I assumed a career with animals meant being a vet, but I soon realised that are there lots of different career paths and ended up doing a degree in Zoology at Liverpool John Moores University.
From there, I signed up to the MSc Zoo Conservation Biology jointly run by Paignton Zoo and Plymouth University and actually did the MSc the first year it ran. Then I volunteered at the zoo within the research department while developing PhD ideas. Midway through completing my PhD part-time through the University of Exeter, I was lucky enough to get a job within the education department at Newquay Zoo. My career at Wild Planet Trust developed from there until now, really, with my current role in the Campaigns and Programmes department.
What qualifications and experience particularly helped?
Lots of students had a lot of similar qualifications to me, but I think what really helped me stand out and get my job here was the time I had spent volunteering with them beforehand.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Variety! Like all jobs, there are certain tasks that have to be completed every day – emails, lesson planning, etc. – but I get to work on such a variety of projects, from monitoring behavior and welfare of our animals to our Newquay Sustainable Palm Oil Community project.
What advice do you have for other women looking at a career in conservation?
Be prepared to be adaptable and versatile! Conservation careers are many and varied and you may think you want a certain type of job but explore what’s out there. I am where I am now because of my love of animals and the natural world, but some of the most interesting projects I’m working on at the moment deal with human behavior change, which is a completely new field of interest for me!