After receiving a BSc in Zoology from Cardiff University in 2012, I began work for Bristol Zoo Gardens managing an animal collection and a 250 person strong volunteer program. Although my job is enjoyable, challenging and varied, I knew that I also wanted to pursue a PhD but I was unsure as to the topic for a long time. To help me decide, I volunteered as a Mammals Keeper for 18 months at Bristol Zoo Gardens, working with every mammalian species on site. Whilst volunteering, I evaluated many of the species for their research needs and opportunities and eventually chose the Livingstone's fruit bat (Pteropus livingstonii) as a species in dire need of scientific input.
I started my part-time PhD in 2016, supervised by Gareth Jones and Gráinne McCabe, working on the interactions of behaviour and vocalisations on reproductive success in captive Livingstone's fruit bats, evaluated by genetic analysis at Jersey Zoo and Bristol Zoo Gardens.
My PhD is principally self-funded through my employment at Bristol Zoo Gardens, however it has been supported by kind grants from the Alice McCosh Trust (www.thealicemccoshtrust.org.uk) and Bristol Zoological Society (www.bristolzoo.org.uk) in the past. In addition to this funding, I also ran a successful crowd-funding campaign in 2018 for the materials required in my genetics work (www.experiment.com/batonthebrink), which attracted strong public and press attention and support from Stephen Fry (www.twitter.com/stephenfry/status/955782089097564161).