To celebrate international women in science day on February 11, we caught up with two of our amazing wāhine Dr Katie Collins - Department of Conservation, Science Lead Freshwater Technical Advisor and Hayley Devlin, Research Technician for our strategic partner, Carex, part of the University of Canterbury Freshwater Ecology Group to ask them some questions.
Why is science cool?
Science is cool because it helps make sense of the world around you, and understand different phenomena and why they happen
I enjoy science because there is always something new to learn and discover.
What got you into it?
I have always been into science, and been curious about the world around me – exploring nature, catching bugs, playing in rockpools with anemones, fish and crabs and planting trees. My primary school had a gully restoration project underway which I really enjoyed participating in and probably drove my interest in New Zealand’s environment
I got into freshwater ecology after a second year university course and summer scholarship sparked my interest. In my summer scholarship I used the invertebrates that live in streams (macroinvertebrates) to provide an indicator of restoration success. This is possible because invertebrates that live in streams are diverse and their tolerance of disturbance and pollution are predictable.
Growing up on a farm that bordered a river and mountains covered in native forest there were always places to explore in nature and I spent many school holidays catching bullies and insects, looking at plants and walking in the forest. This curiosity evolved into a wanting to understand and protect the environment.
I was interested in pursuing freshwater ecology after a university course which opened my eyes to the diversity of invertebrates that lived within the waterways – a whole world below the surface of that water that you wouldn’t usually see or think about.
Do you have any women in science role models?
My (female) high school geography and biology teachers inspired me to pursue further studies in the environmental space.I really enjoy running freshwater ecology science outreach activities for children to help them learn about river and stream environments. I love the sense of wonder they have when exploring the natural world!
I am fortunate to have been working for 10 years now in an environment which focuses on the conservation and rehabilitation of our freshwaters in NZ. During these years I have worked alongside many inspiring women in science, all with a passion to work in a role that can make change.