Meet our new Blog Associate Editor: Kristina Macdonald

Back in Summer 2020, we launched an open call for a Blog Associate Editor to help us better communicate and engage with the applied ecology community. Today, we are very pleased to introduce our successful candidate Kristina Macdonald.


Kia Ora (Hello)

I’m Kristina, the new Blog Associate Editor. I’m a Kiwi (New Zealander) currently living in Melbourne, Australia. I’m a second year PhD Candidate at Deakin University fast approaching my halfway mark.

I have a huge love for reptiles, which developed in rebellion to people disliking them (who doesn’t love an underdog?), and my other focus is applied ecology – it’s where I feel we can have the most impact to protect and manage our environment.

For my PhD, I was fortunate to secure a project focusing on the applied management of native fauna. Specifically, I’m investigating the compounding effects of fire and invasive predators on herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians). 

Life before my PhD

Before moving to Australia, I was in New Zealand working as an ecologist for local government. This was a great role providing insight in how research, government and industry work together, and the challenges involved. When I first started, I created and led some really neat collaborative community biodiversity projects. Over the four years my role developed significantly into the applied ecology space.

Rough gecko (Naultinus rudis) ©Kristina Macdonald

I discovered a passion for reptiles when I realised how frequently they were overlooked. This steered my role towards 1) advocating for the need to consider reptile habitat 2) providing advice to projects where habitat clearance was required 3) undertaking survey work and 4) developing and implementing reptile management plans.

It was during this work that I noticed the gaps in research on reptiles and disturbance, spiking my interest to move back into research and start my PhD. Prior to all that, and what feels like a lifetime ago, I studied at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, for my undergraduate degree and BSc (hons) in Environmental Science.

Life outside of work

When I’m not in the field or glued to a laptop working on my PhD, you’ll likely find me outside enjoying natural areas with my camera. If I’m not there, then look for the closest dogs and coffee.

I also love to explore new places to see wildlife; my last major holiday involved a three-week road trip through national parks in Botswana (which was incredible!). Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to see much of Australia yet but now that COVID restrictions are easing, I can start exploring. Although, the restrictions have encouraged me to try out some new hobbies, including watercolour painting and attempting to learn French – Salut!

The blog

 I’m excited to start my new role as Blog Associate Editor and jump into curating and sharing posts on topics that are important across different sectors. Science communication is vital and I have done my fair share; from chatting with community groups about conservation to presenting research at academic conferences and symposiums. However, blogging is something I haven’t done before, and I can’t wait to jump in and develop new skills.

My role with the blog will focus on bringing in more content from community, government and industry to bolster the research summaries we post. I hope to increase the number of posts on the blog from these ecology sectors to highlight their work, challenges and perspectives, and to engage a broader audience, stimulate debate and encourage new collaborations. My aim is to help bridge the gap between all ecology sectors to improve conservation outcomes.

Cascade gecko (Mokopirirakau “cascades”) ©Kristina Macdonald

I look forward to finding and sharing these stories with The Applied Ecologist community, and excited to broaden my horizons on other areas of ecology in the process – if you have any ideas or cute reptile pictures please get in touch.

Follow Kristina on Twitter and get in touch if you have an idea for a post.

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