SFS was the first step on my career journey and I feel an enormous amount of gratitude to the program. There is no way I would be where I am today without SFS, and I am still in touch with my professors from seven years ago.
SFS PROGRAM: Wildlife Management Studies | Kenya & Tanzania | Spring 2012
HOME SCHOOL WHILE AT SFS: University of Maryland
CURRENT POSITION: Ph.D. Student, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SFS MEMORY?
My first visit to the Ngorongoro Crater in 2012 will always stand out to me. I remember being blown away by the natural splendor of the area and the sheer density of carnivores in the Crater… in just one session, we saw hyenas, cheetahs, jackals, servals, and lions. I’d seen documentaries about the Crater as a child, so I was super excited to see it for myself, and it exceeded my expectations. I told myself I’d be back here one day as a researcher, and I’m lucky that it has actually happened.
LOOKING BACK, WHAT DID YOU GAIN FROM YOUR TIME AT SFS?
I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. focused on spotted hyenas in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. I am focused on hyena adaptability to human pressure and the impact that hyenas have on the local Maasai community.
SFS set me on this career path. Having professors who were directly in my field and to meet scientists who were doing what I wanted to do for a living was eye-opening and incredibly rewarding. It showed me a career in large carnivore research was attainable and it also taught me practical field and statistical skills that I still use to this day. SFS was the first step on my career journey and I feel an enormous amount of gratitude to the program. There is no way I would be where I am today without SFS, and I am still in touch with my professors from seven years ago.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A PROSPECTIVE STUDENT?
I would tell them to make the most of their semester – keep in touch with their professors, look for opportunities to get published, and do what they can to stand out. A semester with SFS can be the foundation for a long and fruitful career in field biology if you play your cards right. Get good grades and network!
DESCRIBE A FAVORITE PLACE TO VISIT IN EAST AFRICA.
The Ngorongoro Crater! It is just bursting with life, and the species richness is palpable as soon as you drive in. Time seems to stand still here. Sometimes during fieldwork I have to pause just to take a moment and soak it all in and meditate. The wide open grasslands, vast herds of grazing herbivores, lion prides, and hyena clans give a prehistoric feeling to the whole place and speak to something ancient and mysterious from our past.
FINISH THIS SENTENCE: RESEARCH IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE…
It informs management decisions and policymaking. Evidence-based, scientifically informed environmental policy is the bedrock of a healthy ecosystem that meets the needs of both wildlife and human communities. Scientists play an essential role in society because of this, and it is very fulfilling to see our expertise and recommendations being applied by policymakers and managers.