Valuing Biodiversity

My name is Claire and I’m a business analyst at Gaia Resources. 

I was never one of those kids who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. Rather, I asked a lot of questions. Why do birds lay eggs? Who invented money? Why does sand clump when it’s wet, but fall apart when it’s too wet? I was nosy, driven by an obsession with understanding why things are. Inevitably, when I finished school I opted to study science. Science, by the way, comes from the latin word ‘Scire’ – to know. 

I specialised in biology. I loved the way that nature always had such elegant answer to complex problems. Learning about food webs, homeostasis and the carbon cycle fostered a view that everything is interconnected in a delicate balance. Growing up in Western Australia, I knew that the south-west of the continent is a biodiversity hotspot. Here’s the rub, though – that’s not a good thing: To be a ‘biodiversity hotspot’, an area must a) contain over 1,500 species of endemic vascular plants and b) have lost >70% of primary native vegetation. In short, Western Australia has exquisite vegetation needing protection and I took that personally.   

On graduation, I worked as a field scientist collecting botanical samples and traipsing around the Pilbara monitoring creeks. The work was interesting but the long hours took their toll and after two years I decided that it wasn’t for me. Field work is tough. In 2019 I went back to university, this time to complete a degree in environmental biotechnology: I was still fascinated by nature. I wanted to do something mentally stimulating and future-focussed. I needed better tools for saving the world.

One thing I’d struggled with in the workforce was how fractured the research could be. There was nothing holistic and a study conducted over there often had no bearing on what was happening over here – even if the subject matter was closely related. The research existed but there was nobody joining the dots. Going back to university allowed me to tap back into the pursuit of knowledge and focus on what could be instead of lamenting what is. During my studies, I had the privilege of learning from the state’s 10th Premier Fellow, who imparted a simple mantra: Look at the data. What do you see?

 

 

What I like about Gaia

I found Gaia Resources through google. No, really. I searched ‘environmental technology + Perth’, clicked the first hit and wrote to Piers to ask for a job. It was the first time a prospective employer had actually requested a sample of my work. (Look at the data – what do you see?). I sent Piers three of my best assignments and we realised quickly that we knew the same people. Small world …or at least, a close-knit community. 

Gaia Resources was winning the sort of projects that I wanted to do. Complex, interesting, future-focussed tech projects steeped in environmental science. Clients were taxonomists, microbiologists, geneticists and geologists. My coworkers are parasitologists, geographers and technology wiz kids. Everyone is obsessed with nature (or gaming). I’ve found my niche. 

I’m obviously biassed, but I feel that the projects I get to work on are meaningful, which is important to me. They are based on environmental concepts and mapping biodiversity. Our projects are nationally impactful, which keeps it exciting (and the pressure on to get things right). We’re aggregating information and archiving it for future generations. We’re connecting research. We’re building tools and making maps. 

Best of all, I’ve somehow landed a job where I’m actively encouraged to look for patterns, ask questions, join the dots and write what I see. I’m learning every day – and it’s a buzz to be working at the frontier of Australian environmental technology. 

If my story sounds appealing to you, why not start a conversation with us via email, or reach out on one of our social media platforms –  Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. We’d love to hear from you!

Claire

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