'I feel lucky that in biology there is a long tradition of women excelling in science'.
Michele Kohout, DELWP Scientist, Fire Ecology

Introduce yourself and give us a fun fact about Michele

I’ve been interested in plants since I was little and decided to make a career studying them as they are the basis of all life.

I am passionate about the environment and consider myself a natural historian; someone who observes all facets of nature and thinks about how they are linked together. That isn’t something we all do, since our jobs as scientists can be quite compartmentalised.

My happy place is to be wandering amongst alpine flowers, solo, with backpack, camera and tent around Kosciuszko, often not seeing anyone else for 5 days.

What do you do at the ARI?

I have been a plant ecologist with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for 15 years.

In that time I have been fortunate enough to work on a large range of projects which have led to me being in different habitats. From alpine snow patches, forests regenerating after fire, wetlands brimming with life, heathlands, grasslands, rainforests, estuaries and more.

I’ve worked on threatened species, weeds, post-fire and flood recovery, vegetation mapping, to name a few.

What are some of your proudest achievements?

Knowing that I am making a difference to the conservation of our beautiful and unique flora, makes me proud of what I do.

I’m passionate about plants and over the weekend I was in Mallacoota to talk to the locals about ecological recovery after the fires.

I think it’s so important to instill a sense of hope and positivity in situations like that and I look forward to making a positive contribution in the way I communicate science.

Why is it important to recognise days such as International Day of Women and Girls in Science?

I feel lucky that in biology there is a long tradition of women excelling in science. For example, Maisie Fawcett was an inspirational young woman who contributed much to our understanding of alpine plants. The plots she established on the Bogong High Plains are still being monitored today and have become one of the few longest continuous series of ecological data-sites in Australia.

I think that’s pretty impressive and highlights why it is important to recognise the outstanding contribution of women to science.

Do you have any advice for girls and young women considering a career in science?

If your passion is science, then there is nothing stopping you.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I like to combine to science and creativity, and draw, paint or write about nature. You don’t have to limit your science to your day job!

Page last updated: 27/07/20