Job Title

Cindy.JPG

Specialist Avian Ecologist

Who do you work for?

Hydro Tasmania

Cindy is recognised as an expert in the field of birds and wind farms and has had many articles published in scientific journals.

When did you start with Hydro Tasmania?

I began working for Hydro Tasmania in 2000.

What does your job involve?

I study the birds at new sites for wind farms, to estimate the risk of impacts to those birds. As a result of my study, I may then suggest changes to the design of the wind farm to reduce its impact on birds. I also monitor the birds once the wind farm has been built to see if there are impacts on the bird population, and if there are, I investigate and implement management strategies to minimise the impact. Most of this work is to comply with regulatory requirements.

Where were you born and educated?

I was born and raised in Melbourne and completed two undergraduate degrees there before moving to Hobart to complete my PhD at the University of Tasmania.

What did you do before joining Hydro Tasmania?

I did a post-doctoral fellowship in Canada, where I was based at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. I was studying a rather unique seabird that nests in old growth forests in the Pacific north-west.

What was your first paying job?

My first job was collecting empty glasses at a pub.

What is the highlight of your career so far?

My professional highlights have been doing my PhD on Macquarie Island (on penguins), and working in Antarctica.

What is your most memorable moment working with wildlife?

I once undertook field work on French Island in Westernport Bay, Victoria, where we were catching koalas in trees. Holding on to a pole and standing underneath, the koala urinated on my face when I happened to have my mouth open!

During my career I have lived amongst seabirds, including penguin colonies on islands off Australia and Antarctica. I have been bitten, scratched and vomited on, but feel this is a small price to pay for the privilege of spending long periods with wildlife and observing the details of their daily lives.

What are your strengths as a person?

My greatest strength is determination!

My other strengths are my understanding of scientific principles, my knowledge of environmental regulations and the management skills I have gained from ten years of experience in working on the issue of birds and wind farms.

Since working on the issue of birds and wind farms, we have spent a lot of time and resources into obtaining robust information on the effects of wind farms on birds and trying to promote the application of sound scientific and environmental management processes by regulators. We have had some wins. Publishing robust data on the effects of wind farms hopefully counters the great amount of misinformation that exists about wind farms.

What do you do to unwind?

I listen to music, holidays, travel, and spend time with my family.

Tell us something about yourself that your colleagues would be surprised to learn?

I started a degree in fine art before deciding it wasn’t for me and changing to science.

What is your most memorable personal achievement?

Probably completing my PhD and having my kids.

Do you have a hero whose beliefs or actions inspire you?

There are a number of people whom I admire, but what it boils down to is that I am inspired by people who selflessly try to (or do) make the world a better place.

What is the most interesting place you have visited and why?

I have been fortunate to have traveled a fair bit. Each place I visit I find has its own specific aspects that are interesting, but particularly memorable places would be Africa and Antarctica.

What’s the most challenging thing you have ever done?

There have been a couple of times when I have found myself in places that were physically challenging, particularly in remote places, and it was necessary to garner some mental strength to achieve what was required. Unpredictable weather conditions, wild animals and limited resources create hostile working conditions that had to be managed.