Meet the Scientist

Rebecca Hollely

Volunteer Content Developer at European Wilderness Society

What scientific field do you work in?

Biodiversity Conservation

"...I get to live in Austria with the mountains on my doorstep!"

Could you briefly explain what your job involves?

I volunteer with the European Wilderness Society, where I mostly develop content – such as website posts, reports, a blog, the Wilderness Journal. I also help out with organising the Wilderness Academy, and contribute towards projects in herd management, wolf protection and environmental education.

Do you have any secret talents?

I’m quite creative when it comes to thinking of new ways to eat peanut butter!

When did you decide you wanted to work as a scientist?

I used to pore over maps and atlases when I was very young. I’ve always been fascinated with the natural world, and the more I learnt, the more I wanted to help protect the planet. I love learning, and decided to study science, because I realised that the more I learnt, the more questions I had!

What's your favourite food?

Mmm… I love stir fries, with lots of veggies, tofu and a peanut butter/ginger sauce. It’s yum!

What educational pathway did you take to get to where you are now?

I studied Biological Sciences (Zoology) at the University of Birmingham, and when I realised how much I loved learning about zoology and the environment, I went on to study an MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity with the University of Exeter, at the Cornwall Campus.

"...thinking of new ways to eat peanut butter!"

What's your favourite movie quote?

‘If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be better than what you are’. It’s a Kung Fu Panda quote, and an excellent reminder to me to accept new challenges.

What's the best thing about your job?

I feel like I’m making a valuable contribution to nature conservation, but also I get to live in Austria with the mountains on my doorstep.

"I...don't go anywhere without a book in my bag..."

What's the worst thing about your job?

Oh there just aren’t enough hours in the day to read everything I want to about Wilderness, large carnivores and protected areas… there’s so much information out there!

If you could be anyone in the world for 24 hours, who would you be?

I’d pick an explorer from the 19th century. It doesn’t matter which explorer, I’d just love to see part of our Earth before modern western civilisation realised it was there and moved in with vehicles and axes, or built mines, or did other damaging activities etc. Perhaps the jungles of South America, or Indonesia. Back when all those very rare and endangered species were commonplace.

If you could take one thing with you to an island, what would it be and why?

It would have to be a book. I love to read and don’t go anywhere without a book in my bag, and visiting an island would be no different!

Have you taken part in any research?

I LOVE research! The biggest research project I helped with was an anthropology study with wild Chacma baboons. I worked as a field assistant in South Africa for six months, where we looked at how local people’s perceptions of baboons influenced where the baboons would travel, and how they would behave. This meant that every day we’d be out with the baboons at sunrise, and then we would follow the troop for the whole day, recording their behaviour and where they would roam. I got to know each baboon very well – they all had different personalities, and I loved watching the infants grow up. They all had names from science-fiction/fantasy to make them easier to remember and my all-time favourite baboon was called Hermione. It was such a humbling, incredible experience to be able to work so close to wild baboons.

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