I have always been keen to ask questions and find out how things work so I think that helped a lot. My love of the natural world came about initially because of my mum and her dad – giving me the names and some facts about different plants and animals we encountered. I also had two amazing teachers, one at school and one at University who really inspired me.
I always really liked animals, and wanted to find out more about them. As a child, I had a lot of books about animals, which sparked my curiosity – but I don’t think there was anyone in particular who inspired me to choose this career, since nobody in my family is a scientist. In fact, my parents weren’t that happy with my choice of career, they thought I’d be better off as a lawyer or a medical doctor. It was only last year, when I was going on a field course to South Africa with my students to look at leopards, that my mum finally said: wow, you really do have the coolest job in the world.
I wanted to become a scientist to improve my understanding of the world. I have always been curious about how things work and why the work the way they do. I was inspired by my school teacher and two teachers at university who really motivated me in my studies.
I didn’t, when I was younger I wanted to be a vet! It was only when I learned more about science that I realised that if I became a scientist, I could spend my whole life outside, learning new amazing things about plants and animals every day. It seemed like the best job in the world. I was really inspired by all the amazing people I saw on tv or read about who went on adventures overseas looking for endangered animals…I thought they were really brave.
I was (and still am) fascinated with space, it was this interest that first pushed me to science. It wasn’t until my final year studying for my degree that I encountered biology using maths, after this I was hooked! My biggest inspiration is Carl Sagan, he had such an insight to the world and a way of explaining complicated things so that they were easily understood.