Environmental systems – Kristina Jorgensen

Get to know Kristina Jorgensen

What makes it special is all those additional things you get on top of doing the research you enjoy.

Environmental Systems – Kristina Jorgensen

Personal experience

I initially went into biology to further specialise in either zoology or conservation biology. My career in conservation biology started when I chose to travel to Central China to work with the giant panda at a research centre. I truly discovered my passion for conservation of endangered and vulnerable species, and decided that this would only be the beginning of an adventure.

My actual interest in conservation began by accident while watching a koala documentary on Danish TV one Sunday afternoon which featured my supervisor, Dr Alistair Melzer – the ‘koala expert’. That brief virtual encounter lead to travelling all the way across the world to an Australian tropical island where I undertook a six-month conservation project on koalas.

I began my Bachelor degree in biology at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, however, finished it here in Australia by undertaking the koala conservation project. After finishing the degree in August 2015, I spoke to my supervisor about the possibility of doing a Masters degree in Australia.

We found a project and after completing my bachelor degree, I started investigating northern hairy-nosed wombat behaviour in relation to buffel grass (in collaboration with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection). Of the three species of wombat, the northern hairy-nosed is among the world’s most critically-endangered mammals, and not easy to study as you don’t come across very many in the wild.

I hope to stay in Australia and work on marsupials or endangered species. I’m not planning on going back to Denmark except for holidays. And I know that there are even greater adventures ahead.

Research at CQUniversity: Environmental systems

Research in this area is unlimited – there are many students doing research in environmental systems across a variety of topics. Not only is conservation biology an option, but also projects in freshwater and marine water quality, environmental perspectives in agricultural research, and finding innovative solutions that benefit both industry and the environment. There’s also plenty of scope for environmental science, plus field trips (if you are a field-based student) are definitely a bonus.

CQUniversity is affiliated with so many amazing researchers, all with their very own specific niche of research areas, allowing students to explore their own limits and broaden their knowledge. When you do a research higher degree in environmental systems, you become part of a team across research areas, as well as feeling included in what’s actually going on outside of your specific area.

CQUni’s reputation in environmental systems is ranked as ‘above world standard’. When it comes to research, it’s all about enthusiastic people connected with that area of research. With CQUni, we are lucky to have a broad suite of engaged researchers who all want to improve their area, leading to published papers, conferences and a deep level of community engagement. It’s because of these people that we have a good reputation in the academic community.

It’s because of the people at CQUni, that I chose this university.

Current research projects

My current area of research is conservation biology on the northern endangered hairy nosed wombat, in collaboration with the DEHP. We’re investigating how to preserve the species, focusing on behavioural investigations and habitat utilization as the main factors.

There’s also research on optimizing fruit quality, how to estimate sugar content and ripeness using non-invasive methods (applied on fruit plantations to optimize yield and labour), plus a colleague just won a student water quality award.

What’s great about working in Environmental Systems is that I got to do exactly what I wanted to do with my own research. When you commit to research for two years, it has to be the right pick. I was able to meet other amazing researchers and esteemed professors, attend conferences specific to my topic to meet other researchers in the area, and share in the inspiration, motivation and drive for it. And that’s what makes it special. All those additional things you get on top of doing the research you enjoy.

Research career highlights

I believe that my greatest highlight has been helping preserve one of the world’s most endangered mammals. My longest research project so far has been on the northern hairy-nosed wombat, a critically endangered marsupial. The beauty of doing research is that it allows you to grow with the task and you can watch the progress, even if it’s just in small steps. And even though this might only be a small step in my career, it feels like a massive accomplishment.

If I wasn’t in research, I would probably be in veterinary science working with wildlife or production animals.

Explore more about current research at CQUni’s School of Health, Medical and Applied Sciences.