Swapping books for nature

7 December 2017

Charlotte Tomlinson

University of Waikato student Charlotte Tomlinson will be packing her books away this summer to assist NIWA scientists, after winning a coveted Blake NIWA Ambassador Award.

Charlotte will spend four weeks conducting research on New Zealand native freshwater fish, focusing on whitebait habitat restoration and fish passage in the Waikato region.

The Sir Peter Blake Trust offers talented young people unique opportunities to work alongside world-class subject experts, leading scientists, conservators and rangers, and to develop relationships and partnerships in their field of interest. “By developing new applied skills in the field and building leadership qualities, our Blake Ambassadors use these experiences to share and inspire others,” says Sally Paterson, Acting CEO of the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

NIWA Chief Executive John Morgan said: “As the trust’s principal science partner, NIWA has been welcoming its ambassadors to sites around the country for several years now. This year we are particularly excited to see such an enthusiastic and talented group of young people joining us over summer.”

Charlotte has just completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Science, and is currently in the middle of a summer scholarship placement at the Cawthron Institute in Nelson, working on an algal toxicity project.

“The ambassadorship is a great chance to gain further practical experience in freshwater ecology, particularly fieldwork,” she says. “Working on whitebait abundance surveys will nicely contrast with previous work experience I have done through the University of Waikato looking at pest freshwater fish populations.”

Charlotte is looking forward to gaining skills and experience in freshwater ecology, as well as learning how to communicate scientific research to the wider community. “I am especially looking forward to meeting top scientists and having the opportunity to learn from them. Throughout my undergraduate degree I became particularly interested in freshwater ecology, and with this amazing opportunity I am hoping to decide which particular area I would like to continue my studies in.”