Dr Ana Leitão

Ana focused her PhD on the ecology and breeding biology of the lovely fairy-wren, spending months in the wet tropics chasing birds to present the first comprehensive study on the species.

Ana Leitão posing for a selfie in the Australian bush

My project was focused on the evolution of elaborate female signal traits. For that, I described and directly compared female and male behaviour and function of plumage colour and song in the lovely fairy-wren (Malurus amabilis).

What I love about research in science is that you are constantly learning something new, just by being curious, posing questions, discussing with your peers or reading your colleagues’ work. I also love the non-monotonous element of this work, and all the processes that it entails. From thinking about the big questions, designing the experiment and collecting the data, to analysing and writing up the results. My favourite part of my PhD was the fieldwork, and all the months spent in the wet tropics chasing birds.

The best part of being at the University was the human connections: the companionship of my colleagues, mentors and friends. I loved the culture of Australia and the ‘in your face’ nature and wildlife.

My advice for undergraduate students is to focus on your studies, professional skills and your ‘dream’ job, but remember that your personal development and mental health are just as important to your future.

This story is based on an article originally published in the series Humans of BioSciences.

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