NAS Women: A zoologist trying to save the world

Posted on August 04, 2021

NAS Women: A zoologist trying to save the world
Women's Month: Focus on Ms Jawi Ramahlo

Q: Job title and in which department/research entity do you work?
A: I am a PhD student in the Department of Zoology and Entomology.

Q: What has been the highlight of your career? 
A: The long-term highlight of my career is every single fieldwork opportunity I get. As scientists, we are fascinated with how the world works, and we choose a field or department that deals with the things that interest us most. For me, it is wildlife and conservation, and so every chance I get to be outside in nature is a highlight!
​My short-term highlight is getting to New Zealand to present my work at a conference and winning an award for my talk! Also, getting to visit Hobbiton was pretty cool!

Q: What inspires you?
A: Several things. The idea that my work could be used to protect our wildlife (I’m not a hero, I’m just a zoologist trying to save the world with my charm and winning personality). Making my family proud - when my parents go on holiday, they tell game rangers that their daughter is a zoologist. It’s the little things.

Q: What challenges have you experienced in your career?
A: Being a black female zoologist is not the rare occurrence of yesteryear, but we still have a ways to go. As a result, there are sometimes feelings of isolation and inadequacy. However, I overcome these feelings with massive amounts of somewhat-earned confidence and an amazing friends and family support system!

Q: What message do you have for the youth of South Africa?
It can be difficult (for many reasons), but it is essential to follow your bliss, no matter what others say. From an early age, I knew that I preferred animals to people, and I pulled at that thread long enough to convince some important people that people can trust me with a career in zoology!

- Author Martie Meyer
Published by Martie Meyer

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