Rhian Jenkins

BA, BSc, PhD

I lead the Environmental provision within UWTSD, I’ve been teaching at the university for 19 years in subjects like marine conservation, marine ecology, habitat science and sustainability. I also maintain a positive interest and engagement with research, mainly in the fields of marine mammal conservation and reclamation of degraded landscapes. I’ve always been interested in the natural environment and wildlife in general. 

Environmental Role models

I was inspired by Rachel Carson, whose book ‘Silent Spring’ was ground-breaking, a woman who took on the chemical industry, she identified that the use of chemical pesticides and how DDT in particular, was having a devastating impact on our wildlife. This woman had the self-belief and resolve in her science and what it was telling her, and history has borne this out. There are a tremendous number of powerful women who are working in the scientific field, Gro Harlem Brundtland who brought sustainability to the political agenda in 1992, and the yachtswoman Ellen McArthur, whose foundation has been key in inspiring people to consider the circular economy and waste management.

One of the most influential women of our time who is certainly an old head on young shoulders would have to be Greta Thunberg, who has really inspired the younger generation in a way that we haven’t seen for a long time, empowering young people to stand up and question government’s decisions over the way that they tackle climate change.

Changing Career Paths

What my journey will tell you is that sometimes you have to take a long route. I came at this career in a slightly different way, whilst I started on an alternative career path,  I returned to study Environmental Conservation, then completed a Ph.D., and this has been my passion ever since. If you are really impassioned by something and determined, there are ways around obstacles, and you can get there in the end.

Environmental Conservation and STEM

Although environmental science may not immediately draw your attention to science and mathematics, everything we do involves that. If you are talking about climate change, you have to understand atmospheric chemistry, if you’re looking at habitat management, there has to be an understanding of how different ecosystems interact and co-exist, so there are elements of biology within that.

Fieldwork and research involve elements of data collection, trend, and data analysis so we are using mathematics. Conservation is also catching up with technological advances, using drones to survey hedgerows for example.

Women in STEM

STEM is an area that should be attractive to women and girls, we have certainly seen an increase in the number of women within my discipline.

My advice to any woman, and we certainly need more in the field of STEM, is to give it a go, it’s not as difficult as you imagine it to be, there is plenty of support if you are concerned about your level of science and mathematics. The job opportunities are broad and far-reaching and the salary that goes with any stem-related subject can be substantially higher than other professions. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.

If someone tells you that you can't do something, then let it galvanise you. Focus on what you want to do and keep knocking on doors. We are here to support you in your own academic journey.

Interested in studying Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change?

Contact Professor Rhian Jenkins with your questions.