1. Name: Dr Jodi Rowley
2. Age: 38
3. Website / Twitter Handle / Instagram: www.jodirowley.com; @jodirowley
4. Where do you work? The Australian Museum and UNSW Sydney
5. Position: Curator, Amphibian & Reptile Conservation Biology
6. How did you get there? I didn’t know what I wanted to do from a young age. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do when I finished High School- back then it was a toss up between environmental science and graphic design. I’m so very glad that I picked environmental science, as that’s where I fell in love with frogs and decided that I’d try and do whatever I could to ensure to help stem the decline of amphibian populations. After my undergraduate degree and Honours research project in Environmental Science at UNSW Sydney I moved north to start a PhD at James Cook University. There I spent a lot of time stalking frogs in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, trying to understand why some species of frog were declining from the amphibian chytrid fungus and others weren’t. Upon completing my PhD, instead of taking a postdoc, I took the (academically stupid) option of moving to Cambodia to work for international NGO Conservation International. I thought it was there that I could make the biggest contribution to amphibian conservation and it really was the best decision I could have made- the fieldwork in the rainforests of North Queensland had prepared me at least a little for the expeditions in search of amphibians and reptiles Cambodia, China and Vietnam. The work I do has always been highly collaborative- I’m incredibly lucky that I have the amazing colleagues, and friends, that I do. Capacity building has always been, also a big focus of the work- I initially conducted amphibian research and conservation training courses in Cambodia and Vietnam, and mentoring students in the lab and the field, has always been important. After a couple of years based in SE Asia, I moved back to Sydney and have held a position there since- at first short-term contracts, and in my current position since 2016. While I maintain a research focus on SE Asia, I’m excited to be working more and more back in Australia. I’m incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had, and the colleagues that have made it possible.
7. Was there any particular hardship that you had to overcome to work in your position? The fieldwork was incredibly mentally and physically difficult at times (crazy weather, biting insects and steep terrain), but I’ve been very fortunate in my career.
8. What advice do you give to someone interested in your profession? What advice might you have for someone from an underrepresented group who is interested in entering your field? It’s a cliché, but if you’re passionate about what you do, then you’ll have the grit to keep at it, even if things get incredibly tough. For anyone interested I entering herpetology, I recommend attending herpetological meetings – whether it’s your local group of herp enthusiasts or big national or international meetings. Being exposed to the current research, and meeting the people doing it, was really inspiring for me. I also recommend volunteering, so that you get an idea of what kind of research you love (and what you don’t!). And finally, try and find mentors in your field. I’ve been lucky enough to have had, and continue to have some amazing mentors in my career, and I couldn’t have done it without them.
9. What’s your favorite herp? I’m moderately obsessed with most herps, especially the amphibian kind. Growing up in a country without salamanders and newts, I am known to get a tad excited when I see a four-legged amphibian with a tail. However, I’ll go with Helen’s Flying Frog (Rhacophorus helenae), a large, green flying (gliding) frog from southern Vietnam.
10. Why are you an HL member? Being a member of HL connects me with the herpetological community- through journals and meetings
11. Is there anything else you would like to add? Always keep in mind why you’re doing the research and conservation work you’re doing, and why it’s important. And when appropriate- tell people this! Whether it’s via scientific or public talks, blogs or social media.
12. Is there a good caption for your attached photograph? Perhaps the most photogenic individual ever- a Helen’s Flying Frog (Rhacophorus helenae)- with a very sweaty me.