Hello, I am Ine and a PhD-student in the group of Joern Fisher since October 2011. During the next years, I will focus on how land use is related to bird and carnivore distribution and how these distributions may change in the future. My interest for nature started already at a very young age and while growing up on a farm I was always surrounded by animals. My choice to study biology was partly influenced by my high school biology teacher whom was one of the most enthusiastic teachers at school. When I started with my bachelor biology at Utrecht University I had no idea yet in what field I would like to work and was interested in ecology but also in other fields such as molecular cell biology and physiology.
My interest in conservation biology was first sparked during my minor in Arctic Biology when I studied for a year on Spitsbergen. It was great to live for a long time in such a remote place and to be so close to nature. However, I learned about and could see the threats of climate change to the Polar Regions. During the summer I worked as a research assistant with kittiwakes which evoked my interest in birds.
After my bachelor I started a master at the University of Amsterdam. For my master thesis I went to the University of Alaska Fairbanks and studied the effects of climate on food availability to seabirds breeding on the Pribilof Islands. My thesis was part of the BSIERP-project that examines how climate controls the time and place of production of species at different trophic levels in the Bering Sea. I was very happy to be able to work in a larger set-up and collaborate with scientists working on different projects. Furthermore, this project gave me another chance to spend two summers in the field on another beautiful remote island. Besides catching birds, I worked together with another student on a project studying the importance of birds for subsistence and cultural values in the native Aleut community. For this study we used questionnaires and I enjoyed it very much to discuss the birds with the local people. Working on this project and the kind hospitality and enthusiasm of the community fueled my interest in the connections between nature and society.
After my master I spend half a year in Kenya volunteering for a community project that aims to conserve the local rainforest. During this time I tried to understand the conflicts between the local community and the forest authorities and I helped to increase the community awareness. Together with the local teachers we set up a curriculum to teach the communities about the importance of the rainforest. After this experience I knew I wanted to continue working in a project that links conservation with our society.
Therefore, I am very happy to be a PhD-student in this interdisciplinary project and I hope to learn more about how sociological and political processes can be linked to ecological issues. I am excited about my project since I can continue working on birds but also explore a new field and work on human-carnivore conflicts. Already when I was a child, I learned about the conflicts between the farmers and the geese in the Netherlands and now I am looking forward to work on human-carnivore conflicts in Romania.