Science in Practice
Meet your Mad Scientist - Associate Professor Matt Hayward
1. What is your current position, and what do you do? I’m an Associate Professor of Conservation Science. I used to go out into the field to study threatened animals, but nowadays I mostly help students achieve their field biology dreams.
2. What interests did you have growing up?
I was always interested in animals from as far back as I can remember. Mum used to take us to the library as little kids, and I’d just borrow animal books – she thought I was just looking at the pictures, but it turns out I might have been reading some of the facts too.
3. Would you recommend pursuing a career in the sciences?
Definitely – living my dream life. The sciences can take you around the world to amazing places to meet fantastic people. There are always interesting questions to answer, and the environmental catastrophe we are facing at present means these issues will become more and more important to solve.
4. What advice would you give to kids who are interested in the sciences?
Follow your interests – don’t do a subject because you feel it would put you in a better position for a future goal – do something you’re passionate about and change your future goals accordingly.
Associate Professor Matt Hayward conducted a PhD on the conservation ecology of the vulnerable quokka – a small wallaby that the introduced red fox loves to kill – in the Western Australian jarrah forest.
Matt then conducted two post-doctorates in South Africa; the first on bushmeat hunting in the coastal forests of the Transkei with the Walter Sisulu University, and the second at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to study the reintroduction of lions, spotted hyaenas and a leopard to Addo Elephant National Park.
Matt has worked as the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s regional ecologist for six reserves in south-eastern Australia covering over 700,000ha, ranging from the deserts of Lake Eyre through the mallee to Sydney’s North Head where reintroduction, ecosystem services, feral eradication/control and fire management were key research issues.
Matt is also a lecturer in the School of Environmental and Life Sciences.