I am a Tracy Banivanua Mar Research Fellow and the Head of the Wildlife Endocrinology Lab in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology at La Trobe University.
I grew up in rural Colorado and was always searching for animals and bringing home injured creatures. As a teenager trying to figure out my career path, I focused on the first career that comes to mind for all animal lovers: veterinarian. "Then at university, I discovered the world of wildlife research. I was in a study abroad in Kenya, and (thanks to a bit of persistent determination) was able to volunteer for a PhD student studying black rhinos. Research tapped into my sense of curiosity and inquisitiveness, and there was no turning back."
After university, I spent several years working as a field biologist around North America. That time was fun and exciting, but it also helped me refine my research interests. Eventually, I returned to do a PhD studying stress and reproduction in Canada lynx. The goal of my thesis was to use information about animal physiology to improve reintroduction success and conservation outcomes for this threatened species. After a rocky start, that project has become a great reintroduction success story!
Since then, my research has continued to examine links between physiology, animal behaviour, and wildlife conservation. Specifically, I am interested in the dynamic interactions between stress and reproduction. There are a lot of assumptions about how stress affects reproduction, specifically the mechanisms involved. My research challenges those assumptions and aims to identify better solutions for reproductive problems. My goal is to improve the conservation of endangered species, enhance the welfare of captive animals, and broaden our understanding of animal physiology.