Master of Forest Ecosystem Science alumna awarded Future Forests Fellowship

Sarah Dickson-Hoyle has recently been awarded the Future Forests Fellowship from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, where she will complete her PhD studies in place-based fire management under the supervision of Dr Lori Daniels, a disturbance ecologist.

After graduating from the Master of Forest Ecosystem Science in 2013 I took a year off to travel the world, before returning to Australia to take up work as an ecologist with Eco Logical Australia (ELA). Over the past four years, first in their Mudgee office and now in Canberra, I have managed and implemented a wide range of projects in biodiversity impact assessment, vegetation mapping and monitoring, targeted threatened species surveys and much more!

A huge part of my life since graduating has also been volunteering with the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA). I have helped to launch the global Youth in Landscapes Initiative and represented forestry youth at United Nations forums and international forestry summits. These experiences have helped me in my current role coordinating the annual Parliament of Youth on Sustainability here in Canberra.

While my work has always been incredibly supportive of my volunteer activities, I have always had to fit my IFSA and other forestry volunteer commitments around full-time work. Being awarded the Future Forests Fellowship means that I will be able to devote my time entirely to my PhD and to these volunteer activities. I'm really excited about reconnecting with IFSA through the local chapter at UBC, and continuing to work to promote mentoring and leadership development opportunities for students and young professionals in the forests and landscapes sectors.

The biggest appeal of the Future Forests Fellowship was that it offered me the freedom to propose my own research topic, and to pursue my interests spanning the social and ecological sciences. As this fellowship is intended to cover all costs associated with undertaking research, it meant that I could approach supervisors that I wanted to work with and design my own project, rather than being constrained by existing research funding or projects.

UBC’s Faculty of Forestry is a world leader in forestry and fire research, with a diversity of research programs spanning the social and environmental aspects of forest and fire management. As someone with an interdisciplinary background and leaning, this opportunity to connect with researchers working in fields such as historical ecology, social-ecological systems and disturbance ecology is really exciting.