Rosalind Renfrew

Conservation Biologist with the Vermont Institute of Natural Science

BS in Wildlife Biology, MS and PhD in Wildlife Ecology

 

What attracted you to your chosen field?

I was attracted by my curiosity about how nature works, and a passion for the outdoors and for wildlife conservation. I'm a critical thinker so science was a good fit. I don't look to the field to meet my expectations, I feel it's up to me to meet my own expectations within the field. I've managed to not get too desk-bound and keep a hand in active research.

What do you like best about the field?

The adventure of discovering new information and feeling like I can contribute to society in a meaningful way.

What are some personal challenges you have faced in your field?

Balancing the time needed to have a "real life" with the time needed to do all the things (well) that I want to and remain up-to-date in an increasingly competitive field.

What does the future hold for your chosen field?

Continued focus on collaboration, research with clear applications, study design and statistical rigor. Increased competition for funding. Continued improvement in efficiency of research, addressing most critical needs. Unprecedented challenges are upon us in terms of how to address climate change in our research/monitoring design and in conservation strategies.

What things can students do to prepare for a career in this field?

I'm a firm believer in the idea that by following your interests, your field will choose you. Do what the field requires of you in terms of course work, but don't neglect your other interests, because you never know how you might be able to weave those into your work in the future. Just about all of the courses I have ever taken, and all of the positions I have held, whether science-related or not, have come in handy. They either served as a base to build on with higher level courses/learning, or as a way to broaden my base of life experience and knowledge. As you move through your academic path, always keep in mind that the most important skill to learn is problem-solving. Favorite teachers are very important; most of the skills and information that I have retained and applied came from them. If you want to go to grad school, take a break first and get some "real world" experience for at least a couple of years - this is one of the most important aspects of your learning experience, perhaps the most important...it will help you define and/or clarify what you want to do and how you want to do it.