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Meet some real life wildlife biologists

Working on your UNSW Bragg Student Prize topic idea and need some inspo?

Let us introduce you to some awesome people working in conservation and biodiversity. This year’s Bragg topic is ‘Working together to protect the environment’. What better way to start formulating a strong theme for your own essay than by checking out the amazing work wildlife biologists are already doing. Reading up on them could also help you understand the links between scientists and communities and how they work together when it comes to conservation research.

If you need more details on the UNSW Bragg Student Prize (or help with essay writing!), head on over to the official competition page.

Wildlife biologists doing incredible things

Sydney Collett and Benjamin Hoekstra

Sydney Collett

Sydney and Benjamin were part of a group of Burnett Mary Regional Group scientists that recently discovered critically endangered white-throated snapping turtles in Queensland’s Baffle Creek for the first time.

They made the discovery of three turtles while assessing the waterway as part of the Australian Government’s Emergency Flood Recovery project for wildlife and habitat.

Sydney says, “It certainly was a highlight to see not only one white-throated snapping turtle, but three! Males and females, all looking incredibly healthy. It gives me hope that they are recovering, increasing distribution and are doing well. Often you don’t hear the success stories in conservation, particularly with critically endangered species, but it’s great to be a part of this good news.”

Read more about the discovery and Sydney and Benjamin’s experiences here.

Essay topic ideas: The importance of TurtleSAT citizen science, community involvement and initiatives in the Australian Government’s Emergency Flood Recovery project.

Janice Vaz

Janice Vaz is also a Bragg Prize judge this year!

Janice is a wildlife biologist who has recently completed her doctorate. She grew up in Mumbai with a love for wildlife and brings experience in environmental education and community projects. She moved to Australia to pursue her PhD; with her research supporting rescued big cats and seeking to understand people’s perspectives on animal welfare and ways to further improve it.

Janice is passionate about engaging with the community and brings great science communications skills. She wants to help people feel a strong connection with nature, making them curious to appreciate the beauty of all living creatures.

Learn more about her work and how she became a wildlife biologist here.

Essay topic ideas: Wildcat conservation efforts, Botswana Wildlife Watch (cheetah citizen science project).

Ben Dessen

Ben Dessen

Ben combines his zoological background with excellent communication skills as a TV presenter and conservationist.

He started out in volunteer work as a wildlife rescuer to get some hands-on experience and in 2014 completed a Bachelor of Natural Science majoring in Animal Science at the
University of Western Sydney. He’s appeared on TV shows from Sunrise to Saturday Disney and even had a feature role in the movie Rise of the Eco Warriors.

His work has taken him to Borneo, an amazing island that is in the Greater Sunda Islands group of the Malay Archipelago and home to the endangered orang-utan and many other incredible species threatened by logging activities and bushfires.

Check out his study and career path here.

Essay topic idea: The impact of the Centre for Orangutan Protection in Borneo – a direct-action group of Indonesian people who campaign to bring an urgent end to the destruction of Indonesian rainforest and the killing of orangutans.


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