Andrew is a doctoral candidate in Zoology at Trinity College Dublin and a member of the Species360 Conservation Science Alliance. As a 2018-2019 Fulbright Student to the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, Andrew worked on the pioneering efforts to conserve global biodiversity through the development of a prioritization protocol for the collection of genetic samples from endangered species to be banked in cryogenic storage facilities globally.
What does your research / work do for citizens?
The global banking of genetic biodiversity is a Frozen Zoo ©, helping to prevent species’ extinctions and conserve biodiversity.
What problem are you trying to solve?
How to prioritise which species we should try to bank in the Frozen Zoo © and why.
Where did you go on your Fulbright Award and why?
The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as they house the largest collection of banked genetic material in the world and operate the Frozen Zoo ©.
What were the chief learnings from you Fulbright Award? What are you able to do better now?
Practically I learned the process of genetic resource banking and the current representation of species within the Frozen Zoo ©. However in a broader sense I feel like I gained a much more holistic view of what wildlife conservation actually is in the 21st century and the many nuances of how we can implement it appropriately in different circumstances. This experience has been ‘eye opening’ in a way and has given me new perspectives on both my current PhD research and my overall field of study.
What have been the highlights of your Fulbright experience so far?
Engaging with world leaders in the field of genetic banking and biodiversity conservation at one of the most renowned institutions in the world. Seeing the ‘on-the-ground’ realities of biodiversity conservation and the importance of stakeholder engagement as a key component of achieving success in this field. Personally, getting to explore a completely different side of academia has allowed me to grow immensely and consider the multitude of opportunities available to me after my graduate studies.