Amy Hutchison (2014), grew up loving animals, so it was only natural she decided to pursue a career as a zoologist. We chat with Amy about her career.
What inspired you to pursue a career in zoology?
Growing up I loved animals but never knew what I wanted to do so I was always told that I should become a vet, and for a long time, that was what I planned on doing. But when it came time to seriously consider my options after high school, I ended up pursuing zoology at university because I realised that while I loved animals I wanted to work with wildlife and most work as a vet is with pets and other domesticated animals.
Could you walk us through a typical day as a zoologist?
A typical day as a zoologist is actually in the office writing reports or preparing for field trips. A lot of work goes into a project, both before and after the fieldwork. As for a typical day in the field, I work mostly in the Pilbara, starting at 6.00 am and spending the day setting up equipment like motion cameras, acoustic recorders for bird calls, and ultrasonic recorders for bat calls. If we have traps set, they need to be checked first thing after sunrise to release the animals before it gets too hot. A lot of the work I do in the Pilbara is with two threatened bat species (ghost bat and Pilbara leaf-nosed bat), so I spend a lot of time searching caves for bats and scat.
What has been the most satisfying moment in your career?
The most satisfying moment was probably when I volunteered as a chiropterologist (bat scientist) for the non-profit Operation Wallacea at one of their study sites in Indonesia. They fund their conservation work by hosting school students at their study sites for biology camps where the students learn what it is like to be a field scientist. After many years volunteering as a field assistant for other people it was really satisfying to be running a field program myself and knowing that other people had confidence in my abilities. I also loved sharing my knowledge with the students and changing their perceptions about bats.
Why do you love zoology and why would you encourage girls to pursue a career in this field?
The fieldwork is the best part of my job. There are not many jobs where you get paid to hang out in the bush all day! I love being able to work so closely with wildlife and in their natural environment as well. There’s something special about observing threatened species in their natural environment. I’d encourage girls to pursue a career in zoology because there are so many unique opportunities to see and do things that few people ever get to experience.
How did your time at Santa Maria shape your career decisions and choices?
I loved my science classes, particularly in my early years at Santa Maria. This helped steer me towards science in my later years. I always planned to study science at university, even when I wasn’t sure what specific major to do, I only ever considered doing a Bachelor of Science.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me and what opportunities present themselves. Since leaving Santa Maria, I’ve not had a set plan, simply taking any opportunity that comes my way.