Annabelle Constance

Annabelle is a PhD student at the University of Zurich. She is an ecologist with interest in vegetation dynamics of island ecosystems, she aims to understand better the conservation threats posed to small islands, as a result of climate change. 

She has spent nine years working in conservation in the Seychelles Islands specifically, as a former Projects and Science Coordinator with the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF). She helped manage the conservation of Seychelles’ UNESCO world heritage Sites, Aldabra and Vallee de Mai. She contributed to a European-funded project addressing the problem of invasive species in the two sites. She was part of the first cohort to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at UniSey – a degree tailored to Small Island Developing States – and has from her education in terms of the collaborative network with experts in Seychelles, the Western Indian Ocean region and Europe. More recently, through her Masters and PhD training, at the University of Zurich, she is building on this foundation to learn the empirical methods of doing research.

 What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am most proud of the professional network I am building in my career. The best feeling for me is becoming increasingly familiar with other people working in related and relevant fields and being able to approach them directly for advice or information. I would not have accomplished this without a few small talks, taking the time to go out and connect, listening intently to what others have to say and putting myself out there as well. It is equally important to give back to your networks — in my native creole language the saying roughly translates to “one hand washes the other”.

Who has inspired you in your career?

I have been inspired by several people actually, mostly women — teachers from my primary, secondary and university education, my mentors at the Seychelles Islands Foundation, Nancy Bunbury and Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, my PhD supervisor Gabriela Schaepman-Strub and also my grandma who loved plants.

What is your dream research project? Where would you work and with whom?

I want to map the elevation of the outer islands of Seychelles, including Aldabra, using aerial surveying. The importance of this is to better understand the persistence of these islands in the face of climate change. I would hope to work with local experts in Seychelles to achieve this.

What would you say to your fifteen year old self about your career choices?

It’s great to have a career path but even better to be flexible!

What secret talent do you have?

The ability to spread joy and good cheers 🙂

What do you miss most about the pre-Covid19 world?

Discovering new places and doing new things. For instance, waking up one day and deciding you want to take a train to a new city; meeting strangers along the way and guessing their stories.

What is your quote to live by?

There is no substitute for hard work

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