Author: Author: PhD Alyssa Giffin

Read time: 777 words about 6 minutes.

Welcome to part three of the five-part Transition article series, the sequel to the Emergent series, that follows ARI’s Post-Doc Research Fellows as they navigate the next stage of their academic journey post-PhD. Take a journey with them and hear about some of the lessons they have learnt and what drives their passion for their research.

Dr Fernanda Adame Vivanco in her element in the field. Photo: ARI.

Today we put a spotlight on Dr Fernada Adame Vivanco, a collaborative wetland ecologist that focuses her time on measuring the biogeochemical and ecological processes associated with the ecosystem services of wetlands. Fernanda is also an advocate for communicating science in innovative and educational ways, as can be seen through her Wetland Wander Exhibition that displayed the beauty and fragility of wetland ecosystems. Fernanda is an Advance QLD Research Fellow and has been part of ARI since 2013. She is also part of the Global Wetlands Project (GLOW).

What is your favourite aspect about your research?

Spending time in the field! Walking, swimming, boating or flying over wetlands; it is still a thrill to me to realise that I can have these adventures as part of my work.

Why does your work matter?

Because wetlands are awesome! And, we need science to prove how valuable they are.  All my research is focused on finding research gaps that help improve the conservation and restoration of wetlands.

Where do you get your inspiration?

I get inspired when I am in the field because I can feel and breathe how special these ecosystems are and how much they need our protection. I also get inspired by all the women in science that are amazing at what they do.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

The papers I published that have resulted in tangible outcomes. For instance, a mangrove forest in the Caribbean in Mexico was restored because we showed how much carbon emissions the project would offset. My work in the Great Barrier Reef catchments has also been useful to show that wetlands are one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to improve water quality, these published papers resulted in funds for wetland creation and restoration. These outcomes make me very proud.

Where do you see your career taking you or where would you like to be in 5 years?

Hopefully, doing interesting research, in beautiful places and achievieng important outcomes for wetland conservation.

All my research is focused on finding research gaps that help improve the conservation and restoration of wetlands

Wetlands. Photo: Tom Fisk from Pexel.

What continues to challenge you?

The balancing act of doing an academic job which requires so many skills, but also keeping my work-life balance. I am a mum and a wife too!

What would you say to inspire other post-docs?

Find projects or jobs that are meaningful to you; don’t chase money or fame, these won’t last forever and will not bring you happiness at the end of the day. Doing something that you love will make you more productive too! And find a good team to work with. 

How do you tie your own interests or culture into your scientific career?

There is a balance, you have to do what you like, but mostly you have to do what is needed, you can’t just do one or the other. I am always trying to have a project in Mexico, because that is were I am from, and I feel like I owe to my country which supported me throughout my studies. But I will also work whenever is needed.

What has been your funniest moment doing research?

Well, walking in the mud, surrounded by millions of critters, feral pigs, angry cassowaries and deadly crocodiles make a perfect scene for many muddy incidents and laughs.

How did you find the transition from PhD into being a Post-doc?

It is definitely a challenge; you need to find your niche in Academia, so you are not just “one of the many” PhD graduates. It is hard at the beginning and you might have to do some boring jobs, but don’t give up! Keep up your publication record and show that you are good at science. People will eventually notice your capabilities, and your publication record will speak for itself.

Learn more:

  • Find out more about Fern’s work at Griffith Experts.
  • Explore Fern’s Wetland Wander exhibition.
  • Want to explore the contribution of mangrove protection to mitigating emission, check out a cool new web app that Fernanda has developed to help you to do so!
  • Start a conversation with Fernanda about her research on Twitter.

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