I graduated with a Bachelor of Zoology (Animal Ecology) from the University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, on Friday 23 October 2015.

This website was a gift from my loving and very supportive partner, Edward, to help celebrate the end of five long years of part-time study (whilst working full-time) and to mark the beginning of many more years of study, as I embark on a Master of Environmental Science postgraduate research degree, which will likely be followed by a PhD.

In 2010, I commenced my undergraduate degree via distance education. I was inspired to study Zoology following a trip to Africa - South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana in particular. I came back thinking 'I must do something with my life' and was determined to get my piece of paper and return to Africa to work with lions, as so many students do; but then I discovered those little six-legged critters called insects and my interest in them only grew as the years went on.

I loved travelling to Armidale for my Intensive Schools once or twice each year, and I met my partner through UNE and moved there in 2012 to be with him. I still studied as an off-campus student for the next three years but was able to attend the occasional lecture during my lunch break as I had secured a full-time administrative job at the university.

In 2012, I was also elected as the BZool course representative by my fellow students, and appointed as the inaugural President of the Zoology Society of UNE by department academics. In this role, I created the Society's blog and Twitter account and maintained the Society's social media presence for a few years. Towards the end of my studies, I was fortunate to be chosen to undertake fieldwork in Bhutan with 17 other students, as well as academic and technical staff from UNE, and we travelled there in November 2014. We studied the ecology and biogeography of the Eastern Himalayas, and I am a co-author of a paper (based on research conducted in the Chamkhar Chu, a glacial river in the Bumthang province) that has been accepted for publication in Proceedings of Bhutan Ecological Society, which will be my first peer-reviewed journal article.

Trongsa dzong, Bhutan.

Trongsa dzong, Bhutan.

I was fortunate to have excelled academically early on in my undergraduate studies and my success continued and I finished with a course GPA of 6.583 (on the HD side of a Distinction - High Distinction average). This has allowed me to pursue further studies and, in 2016, I will commence my postgraduate research at UNE specialising in Entomology. My particular interest is entomophagy (the consumption of insects as food), but my research will focus on the influence of a novel/warmer environment on ant nest development. This is part of an ARC Discovery Project headed by UNE's Associate Professor of Entomology Nigel Andrew, in conjunction with Dr Alan Anderson from the CSIRO, Professor Nathan Sanders from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), and Associate Professor Robert Dunn from the North Carolina State University (USA). (If you would like to donate to my research and the Insect Ecology Lab at the University of New England, you can do this online via UNE Foundation.)

In addition to all this, I am step-mum to two beautiful boys, servant to Mali and Kenya (Felis catus), who live entirely indoors to protect the native wildlife, and owner of now only one cockroach (Macropanesthia rhinoceros) after the other two unfortunately died. We also plan to adopt a dog but not until we build a secure dog yard, as there is no boundary fencing in our neighbourhood, which allows the resident koala population to pass through uninterrupted.

I am a lover and advocate of science and the scientific method and enjoy science communication. Sometimes I procrasti-clean and procrasti-cook when I know I should be studying, and other times I argue with stupid people on the Internet because I can't help myself.

Duty calls | xkcd [CC BY-NC 2.5]

Duty calls | xkcd [CC BY-NC 2.5]

Wildlife conservation is always a race against time. As zoologists and botanists explore new areas, scrabbling to record the mere existence of species before they become extinct, it’s like someone hurrying through a burning library desperately trying to jot down some of the titles of books that will now never be read.
— Mark Carwadine