Sunday, December 16, 2018

New Council member - Natalie Forsdick

My name is Natalie Forsdick; I’m a PhD student at the University of Otago, working on a project using genomic tools for conservation of threatened species, specifically the kakī (black stilt). I’ve always had a passion for nature and conservation, and my enthusiasm for birding has developed with my research interests. My Masters project at the University of Canterbury investigated the population genetics of the Chatham Island black robin and tomtit, but I never had the opportunity to visit the Chathams until I was awarded a scholarship to travel with Heritage Expeditions on a Sub-Antarctic birding expedition. This experience of exploring our offshore islands cemented my inner ‘bird-nerd’, and I realized that joining Birds NZ would allow me to further my own study of New Zealand birds alongside knowledgeable, supportive, enthusiastic members.

Science communication and public outreach are important facets of my research. As an active member of Birds NZ, I attend the Otago regional monthly meetings, and have been involved in public outreach activities for the society. I have presented my research at the associated national and international conferences. At the Te Anau conference in 2017 I was awarded the student presentation award for my talk about my Masters research. In addition to the student prize, I was presented the society’s unofficial takahē mascot, and have worked to present ‘Orbell’ as a profile-raising tool, helping to expand Birds NZ’s social media presence, and attract new members to our society. I am excited to join the society council, and aim to continue to grow our society in the same open, inclusive, and friendly fashion that I have experienced as a member.