Wild Science

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, some of the Wild Melbourne team share their thoughts on science and its relevance to their relationship with nature. 

Paul Jones – Educator // Wild Melbourne Writer

For me – and I’m sure I’m not alone – science isn’t a cabinet of facts to bring out and look at; it’s a toolbox, to reach out to the world and understand it in marvellous, complex clarity. The facts, discoveries, and inventions we make are the reward for our curiosity. My work has recently taken me into the biomedical sciences; the scientists I speak with are seeking to solve problems in cancer, disease, reproduction, and immunity, to improve the quality of life for some of our most vulnerable members of society. National Science Week is a wonderful way to remind people what their curiosity may lead to, both for humans and all the different living things we share our world with. It’s a passion and enthusiasm that we are born knowing, always asking one more question. And always the same ones – what? How? Why?

Alex Mullarky - Wild Melbourne Publications Sub-editor

My background is in arts, but what inspires me to write is the world around me. Science allows me to process what I see and experience and understand how it all fits together. The wonderful thing about working with an organisation like Wild Melbourne is the dedication to exploring and communicating scientific ideas in a way that anyone – even arts graduates! – can understand. One of my favourite things is meeting people who have dedicated themselves to studying some facet of how our world works, and using the skills I have to help them tell their stories. At home on the farm, it’s also important to me to turn to science to figure out the best ways to manage my domesticated animals in harmony with the native environment. 

On a recent expedition through the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, writer Alex Mullarky used her talent for writing and knowledge of the natural world to educate others about local wildlife. Image: Alex Mullarky

On a recent expedition through the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria, writer Alex Mullarky used her talent for writing and knowledge of the natural world to educate others about local wildlife. Image: Alex Mullarky

Sam Lemaitre - Wild Melbourne Community Outreach & Events Assistant

My passion for nature and the sciences of nature started young. I grew up watching David Attenborough’s documentaries and developed a strong curiosity for how animals function and interact with each other. Knowing wildlife is the first step to protecting it and science provides us with amazing tools to do so. I am now pursuing that passion by studying a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and I really enjoy learning about Australian wildlife and its amazing diversity!

Anne Aulsebrook - PhD Candidate // Wild Melbourne Admin & HR Manager

As a kid, I don’t think I understood what science was. I remember complaining as a twelve-year-old that science class had no relevance to my life. Hilariously, my friend replied, ‘Yeah, science is useless for me; I want to be a marine biologist!’ – so I clearly wasn’t alone. But within a few years, my perspective changed. I had always cared about the natural environment, and I liked learning how living things worked. When I was fifteen, I completed work experience at the Melbourne Aquarium, and also in a marine biology lab. I learnt that around 30% of sharks lay eggs, and that it is more sustainable to eat calamari than flake. I learnt that scientists can be young women who make up dance moves during their labwork. I ended up studying a Bachelor of Science at university, majoring in zoology and ecology. Now, I’m researching how streetlights affect birds, and hoping to help reduce the impacts of urbanisation on wildlife. 

Rowan Mott - Ecologist at Monash University // Wild Melbourne Writer

I catch birds for science. When I release them a few minutes later, there is a high likelihood that each bird will be wearing a uniquely numbered metal leg band, be carrying a GPS tracking device, and may be missing a couple of small feathers or a drop or two of blood. Although this is highly stressful for the unlucky birds that I catch, this one short moment of stress can tell us a vast amount of information about the movements of the bird, its diet, and its general state of health – all of which is important for discovering how the species interacts with its environment and the threats it may be facing.

Ecologist Rowan Mott catches birds for science, learning how we can better protect species in the process. Image: Rowan Mott

Ecologist Rowan Mott catches birds for science, learning how we can better protect species in the process. Image: Rowan Mott

 

Ellie Michaelides - Head Mediator at Science Gallery Melbourne // Wild Melbourne Communications & PR Manager

I studied zoology for five years at university, but at the end of my degrees I decided that I liked talking to people about science more than doing research in the lab or out in the field. Communicating science in a way that is clear and concise, but also relevant and interesting, is crucial to helping people see why it is so incredibly important in almost every aspect of our lives. I love science because it provides an explanation or an answer for almost anything you can think of, from curing disease outbreaks and saving endangered species, to making cars safer and crops more efficient.

Leonardo Guida - Wild Melbourne Community Operations Director

The ocean is my place for reflection. Looking across the vast blue and breathing in the salt air energises my body, mind, and soul. Through my PhD research, I was privileged to have the opportunity to develop a more intimate relationship with the ocean. I learnt about our relationships with sharks and rays and how our actions through fishing affect their populations. Whether dreaming from the shoreline or from under the waves, the ocean brings me peace.

Leonardo Guida believes that science has brought him closer to the marine life with which we share the oceans. Image: Leonardo Guida

Leonardo Guida believes that science has brought him closer to the marine life with which we share the oceans. Image: Leonardo Guida

Sarah Bond - Wild Melbourne Education Manager

Whenever I look around at the plants where I work, I am always struck by the diversity of the different species. All plants have the same constraints, the same needs, the same goals, and yet they have developed so many different ways of doing the same thing. Science has helped me to understand this, as well as taught me the skills of interpreting and identifying plants. I think of this every time I’m learning about a new (to me) plant species or comparing the different features of plants from the same family that are vastly different. Nature is incredible and continues to inspire me every day. 


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!