International Women’s Day 2020: Jessica Schaus
Using cameras to count hedgehogs
We urgently need to find the best methods for studying hedgehogs. This will help us concentrate our conservation efforts where they are most needed. Jessica is trialling a new method of accurately counting hedgehogs.
How did you come to lead your conservation team?
Growing up in the amazon, I was fascinated by the nature I was surrounded by, but also became concerned by how fragile and unprotected wildlife was. I decided to focus my career on better understanding the dynamics of the natural world in order to protect and enhance wildlife. By being involved in a variety of conservation programs in America, Europe, and Africa with a variety of species, my passion for conservation increased and shaped my career path. My dedication and interest in conservation lead me to do an MSc in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation and then a PhD on the impact that human activities have on the populations of small mammals.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
My PhD is by far my biggest challenge! As part of my PhD project, I am using novel methodology that requires continued learning of new analytical tools, some of which have not been widely implemented; therefore, I need to keep updated with the literature and be creative in the way of approaching my data analysis. Many dead ends have been found on the way, but I never give up and try my best until I reach what I am aiming for.
What has been your biggest achievement in the field in the past year?
After three years of extensive fieldwork, data analysis, and discussions with collaborators, I have published my first paper in a peer-review journal. This was achieved thanks to a lot of hard work, persistence, and most importantly, believing in the value of my work.
What would you say to aspiring women who want a future in conservation?
Travel, meet people, visit different places and submerge yourself in different cultures. Understand the world in a better way, so that you can connect with it and feel the necessity to dedicate your life for its protection. You cannot conserve what you don’t know!