Member Spotlight: Vanessa Adams

In the next few weeks, we’ll be advertising openings for members to join our Society for Conservation Oceania section board. To give you an insight into the perks of being a board member, and the wonderful people you’ll get to work with, we’re going to profile a couple of them here, starting with our President Elect, Vanessa Adams.

If you’re interested in joining our board, stay tuned for more information on the nomination and election process, or contact Rebecca for more info.

Vanessa was raised in New Mexico (USA) but currently calls Australia home. She has worked in a variety roles ranging from actuarial analyst for global consulting firm Mercer HR to research scientist at universities. She spent a year as a Fulbright scholar conducting research at University of Queensland in 2004 and completed her PhD at James Cook University in 2011. One component of her PhD research modeled costs of conservation actions to local fishermen in Fiji. Vanessa then took up a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at Charles Darwin University, before moving to her current position at the University of Queensland.

 SCBO: What has been the highlight of your research to date, and what has been the most interesting thing that you have learned?
VA: My research focuses on applying economic concepts and social consultation to make on-ground conservation action more effective and equitable between groups of stakeholders. I’ve tackled a diverse set of conservation questions ranging from theoretical to highly applied questions. I love being a researcher and I feel privileged to get to do some cool science with inspiring colleagues. I’m currently working on conservation impact evaluation, and my recent paper “Measuring benefits of protected area management: trends across realms and research gaps for freshwater systems” was one of the most challenging, but also most interesting, papers I’ve written.

How did you first hear about the Society for Conservation Biology?

I first heard about the Society for Conservation Biology when I was a visiting scientist at the University of Queensland in 2005. All my fellow scientists were busy getting ready to depart for the 2005 ICCB in Brazil and it made me want to learn more about SCB and their conferences. When I returned to research in 2008 I became a member of SCB and started attending ICCBs and have enjoyed them ever since!

What made you put your name forward for election to the SCBO board?

I was really excited by the global board and the direction SCB was headed in, but my research is much more locally focused and I’m interested in regional policies and action. So I decided that putting my name forward for a role on the SCBO board would be a great way to support a society I believe in at a scale that is relevant to my work.

What’s the best thing about being an SCBO board member? 

The members of SCBO make being a board member really rewarding. We have an amazing and engaged membership – and my fellow board members are amazing to work with. My two highlights of being on the board have been working with the board and broader members on our policy submissions and conference organization. Being able to shape the direction of regional policy submissions has been rewarding and taught me a great deal. And I love attending SCB conferences so it has been a great opportunity to organize our regional conferences and make sure that they are successful and fun regional events.

Do you do any other “service” activities? How important do you think it is for scientists in academia to be engaged with the wider conservation community, beyond producing publications?

I think service roles are one of the most important parts of being a research scientist. They provide opportunity to engage with the conservation community and influence other aspects of conservation science, such as policy and public communication. I am an active board member for another professional organization, the Australian Fulbright Alumni Association (AFAA). Being a board member for organizations that I am passionate about is a way of giving back but also is highly rewarding: It gives me a great chance to meet and work with a wide range of people with diverse views and skills and I learn a whole lot along the way!

If you know someone who should be featured in our member spotlight, please let us know.

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