When you’re as passionate about nature and wildlife as I am, people can’t help but ask where that passion stems from. Truth be told, I can’t really pinpoint exactly where it came from but I’m pretty sure growing up in Zimbabwe and being exposed to nature so freely, probably had something to do with it. My early migrations from Zimbabwe to India and then to South Africa also made me more receptive to what the world could offer. From a really young age, I was very curious and adventurous and that led me to be completely fascinated with the sciences. I was fortunate enough to have a family that encouraged that curiosity which ultimately allowed me to pursue a science degree.

From astronomy to climatology and geology to evolution, I remember wanting to learn about it all. Eventually, in university, I decided I wanted to stick with geography and ecology as my two majors. Fast forward seven years and I graduated with a Master of Science with a distinction and my research focused on evolutionary ecology in snakes. One of my proudest moments in life. As an Indian female working in herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians) in the developing world, comes with a certain amount of challenges. First off, there aren’t many women in herpetology and rarely any Indian females in this field outside of India, that we know of! However, when you are as passionate and determined as I am and willing to go after what you want, the world presents you with many opportunities.

After I finished my masters two years ago I decided not to jump into a PhD straight away and that was one of the best decisions I made. In the past two years, I’ve exposed myself to other means of learning both online through videos and media and offline through networking events. I have learnt about the collaboration of science, technology and arts which has opened my mind up to ideas that I might not have been able to harness before. I now look at combining artificial intelligence in wildlife research, using technology and art for conservation communication and combining all STEM subjects to fit my niche. In my spare time, I am invested in learning about astronomy, machine learning, biology and everything that will increase my knowledge of the world and how it works. I am learning to train neural networks and I am using marketing as a means to communicate the importance of wildlife. I certainly have my plate full and continue to want to do more.

Next year I hope to start a PhD in Australia working with reptiles and using my combined skills and passions that form the epitome of STEM. What my science degrees taught me is this: A curious mind and a willingness to learn will give an edge but an ability to think with an open mind and be able to apply the scientific method in all aspects of life, will give you the ability to profoundly influence your problem solving and creative capabilities. Your mind is your only limitation and just a tip, never underestimate the value of a good encyclopaedia to a child.

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