Lucy Garrett - PhD student at the University of Birmingham
My friends used to joke that I grew up living on a small farm - chickens, aviaries full of cockatiels and canaries, dogs, guinea-pigs, rabbits, a hamster and a pond teaming with frogs and newts. I spent many hours gazing into the pond, marvelling at the hundreds of tadpoles which I would draw my fingers through. This fuelled my interest in animal behaviour and living with the countryside at my doorstep, I always had a love for the outdoors.
Studying a BSc in Ecology at the University of East Anglia (UEA) cemented my decision to pursue a career in wildlife conservation and animal behaviour. I followed this by taking an MSc in Applied Ecology and Conservation, also at UEA, and started a career as a field ecologist. My MSc dissertation took me to Mauritius where my love of birds really began. Working on the Critically Endangered Mauritius Fody (a small songbird) I spent a further four years with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation as the coordinator of the Mauritius Fody recovery project. During this time my passion for field work to understand species ecology and preserve our rare and dwindling species really developed.
After leaving Mauritius, I worked on several conservation projects in New Zealand, and went to the UK to work as an ecological consultant. However, my true passion still remained in species ecology and conservation and I knew that designing and implementing my own research was what I really loved the most – from field to paper. This is when I secured my current PhD position at the University of Birmingham where I am studying a seabird colony on the island of Ascension in the middle of the South Atlantic. My study is trying to understand the importance of social and genetic networks for the colonial breeding sooty tern, which have seen huge population declines in the last 50 years. I get to work amongst vast numbers of terns who like nothing more than to destroy my field notes and gear with accurately aimed poo and fish vomit – heaven!