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Jo Carpenter, Researcher – Conservation Ecology

Jo Carpenter. Image: Nicola Wilhelmsen

Jo Carpenter. Image: Nicola Wilhelmsen

I am a researcher, specialising in conservation ecology. This entails carrying out research to better understand how to restore Aotearoa’s unique flora and fauna.

On any given day, I could be microchipping rats in Fiordland, trawling through historic newspaper archives to assess when kakapo were lost from different parts of Aotearoa, or working with iwi to better understand factors preventing kereru from recovering. Or just tearing my hair out trying to make some code work!

What was it that led you into this field?

I was part of Forest and Bird’s Kiwi Conservation Club as a kid, and I think that really gave me an early appreciation for the threats our ecosystems are facing. I also love being out in the ngahere (forest), so a job that let me do that (at least some of the time) seemed pretty ideal.

What did you study at university?

As an undergraduate, I majored in ecology and biodiversity.

Who inspires you?

I am privileged to have spent time with many remarkable, inspiring scientists – too many to list here! Jo Monks (University of Otago), Colin O’Donnell (DOC), and Dave Kelly (University of Canterbury) were amazing mentors to me throughout my time at university. At Manaaki Whenua, Adrian Monks, Susan Walker, Sarah Richardson and Janet Wilmshurst are all wonderful people who also carry out brilliant, high-impact research. I aspire to be like them.

What excites and keeps you inspired about and in the research you do?

Every time I get to go out in the field, I’m reminded why I do what I do. Seeing patterns in nature first hand and trying to infer the processes behind them is captivating.