After finishing her thesis, 2011 Alumni Postgraduate Scholar Katy Upton got in touch to let us know where she is now – and what life after Kent has meant for her so far.
Having recently had my PhD thesis bound I have had some time to reflect on everything which has gone into creating a 200 page book! This is one of the greatest achievements of my life and I am very proud of the work and effort which has gone into my research, as well as eternally grateful of all the support I have received throughout. I submitted my thesis back in July and I can hardly remember those last few weeks of writing and traveling down to Canterbury to submit my final copy!
Shortly afterwards I applied for a job at Chester Zoo as a Curatorial Assistant working alongside the Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates. I was successful in my application and started working at the Zoo in August. I jumped straight into my role spending my first few weeks working on the Mountain Chicken studbook and have been involved in the preparation of the long term management plan for this species.
This has been very interesting work, getting to see how the captive population of these species are managed including pairing individuals based on the best genetic matches to help sustain the population in the future. In November I was lucky enough to travel to Prague where I was involved in the same process but for the Komodo Dragons.
I have been doing this job for seven months now and am thoroughly enjoying it. I regularly get to spend time working behind the scenes with the reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish and even had a brief cameo in the TV programme The Secret Life of the Zoo. After successfully defending my thesis at my viva in September I had three months in which to complete my corrections.
This was a difficult process whilst working full time and enjoying my new found freedom no longer having to work long into the evenings running statistical analysis on my data. However I pushed through and had my corrections accepted in January, submitting my final thesis shortly afterwards. My next plan will be to write up my chapters as publications to share my work with other researchers.
I am currently really enjoying my time at Chester Zoo and hope it will continue long into the future. I still have loads to learn about the roles Zoos play in species conservation however from what I have seen at Chester I believe we can achieve great things.
You can see this article in the summer edition of KENT magazine.