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?
A: 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!