Okay, Okay. I admit it. I have been pitiful at updating the blog over the last year. It’s time for me to get with it, and to make time to post!
A lot of exciting things have happened in the last year, which I will use as an excuse for not posting! Most significantly for me, I submitted my dissertation and graduated with my PhD!
After three years of blood, sweat, and tears and countless hours preparing and submitting manuscripts to academic journals, It was such a relief to be finished. It was so rewarding to see my work in print, and to have it well received by the academic community. I was also very happy to have completed a dissertation on a topic that was both important to me, fulfilling to work on, and crucial for the future of biodiversity conservation. In recognition of this importance, my studies were graciously funded by a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation in the US, for which I’m very grateful. I also had the opportunity to present my work as the opening theme presentation at the 2013 South African Wildlife Management Association Symposium. My PhD work focused on the necessity and the means to achieve conservation of biodiversity beyond protected areas in landscapes modified and dominated by humans. Strict protected areas such as national parks are wonderful places to visit and are crucial for conservation, but the diversity of species we manage to maintain in landscapes where we live, work, and extract resources is hugely important, both for conservation and for maintaining ecosystem services upon which we all rely. If you’re interested, feel free to enjoy all 253 pages.
However, with twelve journal articles and a book chapter under my belt, I grew frustrated with the ivory tower politics and egos, the staid world of academic publishing, the limited interaction between science and practice in conservation, and the barrier between scientific writing and the audience that needs to hear the message in order to enact meaningful change. I decided my time and talents might be better used elsewhere, so recently I’ve taken a hiatus from the academic world and jumped headlong into a freelance writing and photography career. So far, so great! I’ve met some brilliant people and worked on some very interesting projects in the last year, which I fully intend to write about here…just give me some time!
Oh, and after seven years in Pretoria, I moved to Cape Town. What an amazing corner of the world! The natural and cultural beauty is unbelievable. I’ll write about that too soon…I promise!