11 Oct 2022

From ecology and electroreception to emissions reduction. My passion lies in positive change


It’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly when I decided: “hey, I want to work to restore the planet and its species!”
I’ve always held fascination and wonder for all things nature. I consider wonder as being open to the beauty and mysteries of life and when I look at the grandeur of nature, fully present to the moment, it moves me deeply. I don’t need to be at the top of Mount Kosciuszko or in front of a vast fjord to feel the grandeur of nature. Even tiny things such as holding a sea urchin shell I’ve found while snorkeling, or a dead cicada, are so interesting to me and trigger profound emotion and thinking – isn’t it amazing how mathematically perfect these sea urchin nodes are positioned, or how beautiful and delicate the wings of a cicada are, and how they enable flight. I wonder how these creatures evolved over millions of years to exist in a time shared now, with humans?

Early memories of mine in nature include frolicking in the rockpools of Maroubra Beach in Sydney and attempting to build small homes for wild-captured hermit crabs, skinks and bugs in my backyard. Using glass fish tanks or plastic trays, I recreated what I believed then to be the ideal home for my wild friends. I remember feeling a great sadness when my animal caretaking skills weren’t the best, and I eventually released those animals (including a bearded dragon I found in my front yard), which an adult should have told me to do a lot earlier! I realise only now that a lot of those experiences instigated my lifelong desire to take care of these animals and their homes. Throughout my childhood, scientific animal books and David Attenborough documentaries continued to feed the flame for my longing to protect nature and kept me rather obsessed!

Once I began my university studies – Biomedical Engineering and Science, with a focus on Ecology – I started to gain insight as to how my passion for nature conservation could be applicable in the real world and how much we can learn from nature from a technical, engineering perspective such as biomimicry. This inspired my final paper where I explored how studying animal sensory systems could open up a world for humans that we cannot perceive, specifically platypus electroreception for electro-sensory medical devices.

Biomedical engineering always stood out as the natural pathway I would eventually work in over conservation, but I realised towards the end of my studies that my yearning to protect and restore the planet was calling louder, and that I should just give in to my lifelong dream rather than what was expected of me. From this point, my new career goal was to combine both of my degrees to a specific sweet spot and work in conservation technology, an area of technology that enables conservation. At the time, however, this still seemed vague and I was stricken with uncertainty.

After graduating, I worked at a tech start-up, and although it wasn’t conservation-related, it was an immensely uplifting experience and I was able to gauge a much clearer idea of what I wanted to do in my career and personal life.

I am a strong believer of practicing what you preach and the power of tiny gains. One small change in practice might seem marginal and insignificant, but if this was repeated (by yourself or other people), the difference becomes huge. The same can be said for environmentally-focused acts. Only in the last few years did I start making proactive lifestyle changes that better reflected the strong environmental values I held, such as eating a more plant-based diet, using my bike for commuting, going virtually plastic-free or buying second hand clothes only. I thought to myself that I was playing my part in reducing my carbon emissions as best I could, but I forgot to account for the carbon emissions that add up from watching Netflix or just using my laptop or phone. The carbon market and the role carbon plays in the future of the planet are both extremely important in all environmentally focused companies. I wanted to gain first-hand experience of the industry to extend on my knowledge because it was an area that presented as one I definitely wanted to know more about.

My twin sister shares the same values as me and she introduced me to TEM, who as a business piqued my interest with its socially-conscious and nature-based carbon offsetting projects and BlueHalo software.

To be able to work day-to-day to change the world in an area that you’re truly passionate about is something that not many people have a chance to do. And I’m super pumped for my next chapter here!

Kristie supports all change being positive change and the belief that tiny gains surmount to incredible impact.