Standing on the Feat of Giants

As WordPress very clearly points out to me, this is my first Blog post. Ever. So I will start by introducing myself, and then share an experience that I never expected to have (and how it ended up in me getting a WordPress blog). I tend to hate long blog posts, however (particularly the recipe ones), so I will make this as short as I can.

My name is Mel, I am a newly graduated Doctor of Ecology; I have a wonderful partner, a dog called Indiana and watch a (possibly) unhealthy amount of How I met your Mother. I have a deep passion for conservation, advocacy and ecological science which I hope to apply as a postdoctoral researcher here in Melbourne – my new home town as of six months ago. I have been officially thesis free for four months now, and the lack of research-based (or in fact, environment-based) jobs in Australia’s market at the moment is disheartening for an eager, job-seeking, newly-doctored ex PhD student. So in between cleaning up after a six month old puppy and being not very good at Star Wars themed cross stitch, I have been, up to now, failing to find a suitable job.

Which brings me to last night; the night I managed to fulfil a life-long dream I assumed would never come to fruition. I saw Sir David Attenborough. In real life. It was a surreal experience, particularly as the lights went out and the stage lit up. A single man stood centre stage and the crowd erupted. As an avid punk music fan, I have been to my fair share of gigs, but the noise that followed the appearance of Sir David on stage was unrivalled by any performance I have been to. An immediate standing ovation accompanied a deafening noise; the kind of noise where your ears start to not hear sounds anymore, and just hear loud. This one man who has not just touched, but transformed the world, along with literally millions of lives just like mine.

Over three hours, Sir David regaled the audience with stories from decades of exploration; from his early days as assistant to a museum collector, to working with countless film makers and visual/audio talents to produce documentaries as groundbreaking as Planet Earth. One story I remember was when Sir David recounted the night that the presenter for Zoo Quest (the show that saw the birth of his 60+ year career) fell ill, and was to be replaced by an inexperienced sound technician called David Attenborough. He was later recognised on the streets of London by a bus driver who had watched the show the night before and the rest, as they say, is history. Sir David Attenborough, the God-like naturalist and global-phenomenon documentary maker had been discovered by accident. Moreover, he was in his thirties before anyone truly recognised his ability to mesmerise audiences with his dapper charm, quick wit and infectious love of the natural world. It was at this point that I realised, there is no official timeline for success (which is far too personal to let anyone else define for you, at any rate). But furthermore, it was very unlikely that a London bus driver would ever lean out his window and recognise my talent for communicating about the natural world – and not just because I don’t live in London. It is often difficult to find the motivation to continue on in a career when you have not managed to break into it yet – particularly when it is as competitive as early career research. However, self motivation was the only thing that would help me find my career path – and I realised that, to be discovered by accident, I had to dedicate myself to making it happen.

It was between this moment of being in the same room as Sir David, and hearing him tell 4,999 other people that he, his crew and his success needed scientists (just like me) to achieve what he achieved. People. like. me. Thanks to my 90 year old hero, I had rediscovered my drive to ensuring my dream comes true, and that I really become an indispensable ecologist. A scientist without whom people like Sir David could not achieve what they do.

At this point I should probably mention, my friend Dr Kylie Soanes (from the University of Melbourne). She has a facebook page, as well as a website that I encourage you to look at – these also played a big part in encouraging me to start this journey – partly to improve my online and science communication, but also to promote easily understood science, particularly natural science, that can be read, discussed and debated by everyone.

This website will be a challenge – an exciting challenge – that I have now committed myself to for one year. Within it I will be sharing posts on conservation, advocacy, climate change and wildlife ecology for the majority of the time. I will also be covering physical and chemical sciences (when I have the cranial capacity!), politically-tainted science, women in science, as well as discussing and introducing the giants (and not-yet so giants) of science world wide. I am excited to stand on the feat(s) of giants for the next year, as well as establishing some feats of my own – and hopefully in the mean time I can share, discuss, debate and talk a little wild science with you.

Talk wild science with me.

Dr Mel.



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