This week, we’re celebrating women in science ahead of International Day of Girls and Women in Science on Friday 11 February. The next episode of our podcast, ‘So you want to work in a zoo?’, comes out on Friday. This will star our Chief Science Officer, Dr Kirsten Pullen, one of the many women in science that works here at Wild Planet Trust.
Today’s woman in science is our ecology placement student here at Wild Planet Trust, Rossy Lyne-Hall.
What is your role at Wild Planet Trust?
I am an ecology research placement student based at Paignton Zoo. I am currently conducting research on the water quality of the stream which runs through the zoo and the local catchment. My day-to-day responsibilities include carrying out fieldwork such as sampling invertebrates and chemical analysis of water samples, writing my literature review and report and assisting my supervisor Tracey Hamston with local conservation projects.
What attracted you to this particular field?
I love the natural world and have always wanted to incorporate something I’m passionate about into a career. Going into conservation research seems to be one of the best ways to really make a difference in the world through protecting and managing our environment!
How did you get to where you are today?
I took A-levels in Biology, Spanish and Sociology which allowed me to go on to study BSc Biology at the University of Leeds. Alongside my studies, I have always been very involved in volunteering with conservation organisations. I’ve previously volunteered in the Ecuadorian rainforest and the Galapagos, as well as closer to home with Thames21. Additionally, I’ve gained work experience with the shadow environment secretary in the Houses of Parliament and with PhD students at Imperial College London.
What qualifications and experience particularly helped?
My biology degree has been extremely useful in giving me the basis of my biological knowledge. The breadth of the course allowed me to explore which areas of biology I enjoy the most, which for me were more ecology- and conservation-based modules. However, my volunteering and work experience gave me very hands-on fieldwork experience which forms the basis of my work here at Paignton Zoo.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is being able to spend time out and about in the environment. You’ll often just find me in a stream out in the woods collecting invertebrates! I love the fact that I am conducting a research project that is completely my own responsibility and I’m excited to see what I find once the research is complete. Apart from this, I love working on site at the zoo and being able to see so many animals.
What advice do you have for other women looking at a career in conservation?
I would say to try get as much experience as possible through volunteering and working. Try out as many areas of conservation as you can (e.g. forest, marine, river) and be open-minded about any conservation opportunities you may be given.