It might seem that there is no connection between data analysis and animal science, but the work Kate Farquharson produces shows how the intersection of these fields is vital for conservation efforts.
Kate was first introduced to the deceivingly adorable Tasmanian Devil while still in high school. She was taught about the Devil facial tumour disease and the possible link to genetic variation. From there she was hooked.
She started her education at the University of Sydney and completed a Bachelor of Veterinary and Animal Bioscience degree. She is currently working towards a PhD in Animal Science at the University of Sydney where she works as a data analyst and studies the data collected on captive bred animals and tries to identify patterns that can help conservationists.
In high school, Kate would volunteer at local zoos but never saw herself in the scientific field.
She grew up with a fascination with animals and through that passion she found her way to her current role as an animal science student and data analyst.
“Data analysis was something I discovered along the way, and the fun part for me is looking through all this data to find a pattern that we can use to improve conservation of different species.”
There is a plethora of information that is collected by zookeepers and conservationists but, more often than not, it just isn’t used to its full potential.
However, when she was in high school, she didn’t have the same feeling towards maths as she does now.
“I didn’t love it all that much, so when I had to take a compulsory statistics class as an undergrad, I didn’t have high hopes.”
To her surprise, she wound up loving it, which is what led her to data analysis.
When it comes to finding your path, Katherine advised others to “get to know different aspects of an industry, and then you can find which part works for you and which are the ones that your skills match.”
Kate was able to carve her path to a PhD in animal science through statistics. Through her skills in statistics she found data analysis and subsequently, her place within animal science and conservation.
She says that although she doesn’t deal with animals directly on a day to day basis, in the past she has volunteered at local zoos and even at a koala hospital.
These experiences were vital to her role now as they gave her a better understanding of the bigger picture issues facing the animals she is currently studying.
Kate wants others to understand that her role is more than just sitting behind a screen staring at numbers; the analysis that she provides goes towards building a better future for both animals and humans.
– Blaine Woolfson Jarvis
Kate’s career path:
>> Bachelor of Veterinary and Animal Bioscience, University of Sydney
>> Currently completing PhD (Animal Science), University of Sydney
“The great thing about data analysis skills is that they’re pretty much needed across a whole bunch of different industries so you never know where things might take you”
Author: Elise Roberts
Elise is a science, tech and business enthusiast, motivated to connect people with research that will propel their success. With over ten years’ experience working at the intersection of technology and communications across a wide range of industries, Elise enjoys jumping on the latest trends in digital media to share new knowledge with the Australian community.