Name: Katrin Hohwieler
Position: PhD candidate in Koala Conservation Genetics
How do you assess your country's situation at the moment?
Australia is a very ambivalent country. They attract millions of tourists with their iconic animals but continuously destroy pristine habitat for urban development and coal mining. Where I work and live, in South-East Queensland, land clearing happens at an unbelievable speed and in unbearable dimensions. However, people are becoming more and more aware of the dramatic consequences of such political decisions and start raising their voices. What would Australia be without koalas, without wombats, without their stunning forests?
What are your professional activities and what skills are important?
I want to look into genetic consequences of habitat disturbance and destruction in koalas. To obtain genetic samples we collect koala scats in the field. Their poo is very small and hard to see, which is why we work together with detection dogs that are trained on the koala scat scent. Working with so called conservation canines requires team work on a whole new level. It is about non-verbal communication, trust and being a determined leader. Those dogs amaze me every day and make my fieldwork the best thing in the world.
What is your philosophy of life?
I believe that you can learn anything, if you just want to. Sometimes fear and self-doubt hold us back and make us miss out on the most incredible opportunities and experiences. Sometimes the prospect of living in ease and comfort is tempting but there’s nothing more rewarding than challenging yourself. There is an easy way to become a bit more adventurous: every time I have to make a decision I try to choose the more exciting and challenging option.