This year for National Science Week, the team at Wild Melbourne want to know how YOU feel about science and nature - why is science important to you when you explore the natural world and how has it changed your perspective? Whether it's chasing birds, growing plants, understanding ecology, or painting a landscape, science affects the way we perceive nature in so many ways. Today, more of the Wild Melbourne team share their thoughts on science and its relevance to their relationship with nature. If you haven't already seen our first Wild Science article, make sure you have a read here.
Ella Kelly - PhD Candidate // Wild Melbourne Writer
In Year 12, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. On a visit to the University of Melbourne Open Day, we walked past the Zoology building and my dad suggested we check it out. Ten years later, I’ve completed my Bachelor, Master's, and am now working on my PhD in Science, all in that building (I really need to get out more). I work in conservation, which can be incredibly challenging – there’s a lot of sad stories out there – but I still have hope. I work on protecting predators threatened by the cane toad invasion. When the toads originally arrived, things looked grim; native predators were poisoned by them and populations disappeared fast. Now, we're seeing species adapt to the toads, and with the help of a bunch of very dedicated people and some really cool science, they have a good chance of survival.
Trish Koh - Master of Science Candidate // Wild Melbourne Social Media Volunteer
To me, science isn’t just about lab coats and counting species; it forms the backstory to everything in this world. When I was a kid, I wanted to find out everything about anything. Unfortunately, sometime during high school, I fell out of love of science and just wanted good marks. While studying a completely different university course, a chance encounter with a science communication lecturer re-ignited my passion for science. I want to make sure that everyone can still re-connect with science because we can appreciate everything a little more if we know the story behind it. That’s why I love making science accessible to everyone by summarising the latest science and nature news for the Wild Melbourne social media pages.
Evatt Chirgwin - PhD Candidate // Wild Melbourne Writer
A friend once asked if I was pursuing a career in science because I like knowing things. She was surprised when I told her it was actually because of the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I like knowing things; I’ve spent countless enjoyable hours learning facts and theories from books, journal articles, teachers, researchers, and friends. In more recent years, my own research into how natural populations adapt to environmental change has lead to results that I personally find extremely interesting and that I hope can aid broader conservation efforts. However, for me, science is at its most exciting when it gives me the feeling of curiosity upon encountering the things we don’t know or understand. Above all else, this feeling of curiosity – whether it arises from my research or simply observing critters at my local beach – is why I pursue work and a life in science.
Cathy Cavallo - PhD Candidate // Science Communicator // Wild Melbourne Social Media Manager
Growing up around science has helped me understand and question life as it goes on around me. I always want to learn more, and while this curiosity fuels investigation, every investigation triggers further curiosity. Seriously! Science is an endless, immersive cycle of discovery and intrigue that I find utterly captivating. Through science communication and engagement, I try to spark this curiosity in others. I am currently turning this curiosity towards understanding the foraging ecology of little penguins and how we might employ them to study change in the marine environment. By doing so, we may be better placed to protect our marine biodiversity in our changing environment. But science doesn’t have to be formal, hard or empirical. Wondering at the world about us is an exercise in science. I wish more people realised that.
Elodie Camprasse - Wild Melbourne Community Outreach & Events Manager
I have been passionate about marine life for as long as I can remember and was fortunate enough to learn diving as a kid. I was in awe immediately and felt very blessed to see incredible creatures that not a lot of people get to see: fishes, invertebrates, marine mammals... Later on, I became interested in seabirds. They were creatures I could very rarely see underwater. Nowadays, technology allows us to put tiny devices on seabirds and other animals, in order to track them. As they spend most of their time at sea, this is the only way we get to find out what they're doing in a meaningful way. With the devices I used on birds such as penguins during my PhD, I could know where my study individuals went, and even at which depths and in which places they were attempting to catch prey. We are now even able to deploy miniature cameras on the heads of marine creatures to know what they're up to. This is only one of the many ways science and technology help us understand our natural world in order to better protect it.
Rachel Fetherston - Wild Melbourne Publications Manager
The collaboration of the arts and sciences has always been a part of my life. From reading and writing, to walking and snorkelling, without either school of thought it is safe to say my perspective of the world would be very different. Art informs science and science informs art, in more ways than one. Writing about how humans perceive nature, whether in a creative or simply informative way, is reliant on how I understand nature through science. And vice versa too - science can be dependent on art and creativity, and the process of simply writing down your ideas to stimulate the mind and encourage novelty is so important. The most vital perspectives that I believe science brings to a person’s view of the world are complexity and understanding. Nothing is what it seems, but I think that everything can be or will one day be understood. You don’t need to fear the unknown - instead embrace it, with the knowledge that science may one day reveal more about the world than we ever thought possible. If this is the case, we have no excuse not to protect the natural world when we so clearly know what is happening to it.
Tim Brown - Master of Science Candidate // Wild Melbourne Productions & Social Media
One of my favourite possessions as a child was this personalised mug. On it were three words beginning with T, I and M and my favourite Looney Tunes character - the Tasmanian Devil. While I didn’t care about the words at the time, I distinctly remember one of them was ‘inquisitive’. It seems this mug was a prophecy of sorts. My inquisitive nature has only blossomed as the years have passed, thanks largely to science. Science has helped me learn so much about the natural world around us. But science not only provides answers - it also teaches us what questions we need to ask. This has lead me to my current research on helping the recovery of a native wetland fish. While they're no Tasmanian devils, dwarf galaxias (my study species) can survive for months without surface water by hiding in yabby burrows or under stones.
Stephen McGain - Wild Melbourne Writer
From the earliest age I can remember, I have always explored the natural world and been fascinated by the complexity and diversity of the plants and animals that live all around us. I always wanted to know why certain animals looked a certain way or fed only on specific food types. More broadly, understanding science helped me to make sense of what I came into contact with in my everyday activities, and explained why some things behaved the way they did, whilst others behaved differently. Science is now more than just an interest to me. I see it as a way of the future - that is, the way new technologies will be integrated into modern society and how they will transform the way we know and live into the future. This, to me, is incredibly exciting.
Let us know YOUR thoughts on science and nature by commenting below or - better yet - by sharing them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the hashtag #wildscience. We'd love to hear from you!