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Hayley Tumas

Conservation Geneticist

Growing up on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and in the woods of the Appalachian Mountains in Maryland (USA), I have always loved and been fascinated by nature. By the time I enrolled in university at the University of Maryland, I knew that I wanted a career that would allow me to work towards protecting our natural world. I originally thought this would be through a policy position in government, until I took a job as an undergraduate research assistant in a conservation genetics lab. This was a field I had never heard of before much less considered as a career, but I immediately fell in love with the work. Conservation genetics uses information gained from genetic analyses to inform or guide conservation decisions. By sampling DNA from your study species, you can learn about how many individuals live in an area, how they interact with individuals living in other areas, and even get an idea of their chances of survival in the future. Since genetics is linked to adaptation, conservation genetics is becoming even more important as species must adapt to climate change. After my undergraduate degree, I went to the University of Georgia (USA) for my PhD, where I studied the genetics of an important salt marsh plant species to help inform coastal conservation and restoration. I am now a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford studying forest tree genomics, learning and applying some of the newest techniques in genetics to inform forest management.