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New PhD Student – Thais Sasso Lopes, working on Amphibian disease ecology!

In this new post, meet Thais (read until the end to check what her name means!), an ecologist from Brazil that moved to Australia this year to join our team:

"I was born and raised in São Paulo – the largest concrete jungle in South America (about 22 million people in its metropolitan complex). For the most part, I grew up surrounded by buildings and cars, so I don’t have many recollections on how I got myself into biology – perhaps it was a response to the urban environment. But today I cannot see myself away from the forest."

Avenida Paulista, one of the main avenues in São Paulo.

"I took my first steps into Science at University of São Paulo as a biology student. During my bachelor I considered many options ranging from studying morphology of molluscs to infection cells of sea cucumber, then landed in a reptile ecology lab to study animal behaviour, and ended up studying evolution of feeding and reproductive traits within a tribe of South American snakes."

Drymobius chloroticus. Cusuco National Park, Honduras.

Emerald Palm Pit Viper, Bothriechis marchi. Cusuco National Park, Honduras

"Throughout these years as an herpetologist, I have surveyed adorable salamanders and venomous snakes in Honduras, spend six weeks in Costa Rica going from arid vegetation to cloud forests developing projects with amphibians and reptiles, did nocturnal survey for lizards and frogs in forests in the middle of São Paulo, surveyed water across all the state of Tennessee to find hellbender DNA, and had the chance to do several surveys for frogs in waterbodies along the Atlantic forest."

"Now I am on the other side of the world (although at roughly the same latitude as home). I am truly excited and look forward to taking a few more steps in my scientific journey. I am also joyfully anxious to learn a lot of new things that will broaden my understanding of the natural world in general and of the ecology of diseases in particular."

"Finally, as a fun curiosity, Thais is a common name in Brazil, but also happens to be a genus of predatory gastropods that occurs throughout America! Perhaps I was destined to become a biologist after all!"

Stream along the mountains of Urubici,  in the south of Brazil.

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