When Mae Noble was working on coral reef ecology in the sunny Caribbean, she probably didn’t foresee a future where she’d be snorkeling in the freezing Murray-Darling Basin, looking for endangered crayfish.
But after making a decision to change her career direction and pursue further studies, this is where she found herself.
“I was working in the marine ecology field, and I realised that the social aspect of conservation was often lacking. I believe there is a lot of potential for applied conservation to include people’s input and involvement at multiple levels,” she says.
“That’s what made me want to go back and do a postgraduate degree. I found out that I could do a Master degree and research project at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at ANU that explored both ecological and the social aspects of conservation.
“Being able to have that interdisciplinary approach to conservation made it enticing for me and I jumped at the opportunity.”
Mae completed a Master of Environment (Research) degree at ANU looking at Murray crayfish conservation, and also looking for them, in that freezing river. She is now continuing on to PhD research in social-ecological aquatic conservation using applied GIS methods.
“During my Masters I wanted to learn about a new ecosystem and applied natural resource management, making freshwater a good choice because it’s such an endangered ecosystem, and humans have modified it so intensely.”
Despite the change in temperature, Mae says her decision to undertake a postgraduate degree at ANU was the right one.
“It was great having interdisciplinary choices during the coursework part of my degree. I really liked that I could take classes from other departments across campus and within the Fenner School, to pull together a program that addressed my knowledge gaps, and have them count directly towards my degree.
“Getting exposure to the many things that ANU had to offer gave me a good foundation for my PhD.”