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Susanne Masters - Ethnobotanist looking at the interactions we have with wildlife.

Renata Chlumska  - Adventure athlete who became the first Swedish and Czech woman to climb Mount Everest and in 2005 did a circumnavigate of the lower 48 States of the United States by her own power.

Susanne in her own words:

“I think we have become dangerously complacent about referring to how we are disconnected from nature.

Actually, we are inescapably connected to nature.

For every single breath we rely on plants doing the photosynthetic work that also yields oxygen for us to breath, and half of that work is done by ocean dwelling microscopic plants.

When you start looking into agricultural products you see how dependent these outputs are on rain cycles and aquifers. Marine bioprospecting is a frontier of hope in finding non-addictive treatments for chronic pain and novel chemicals for treating cancer.

The deeper you dive the more connections you find between people and wild species.

Perhaps I am more aware of the reliance we have on wild species because of my research on wildlife trade at Naturalis Biodiversity Center. Seeing the work of my academic peers who also look at supply chains feeding markets for products derived from wild species shows that wildlife trade spans both the earth and the phylogenetic tree of life far beyond the niche of wildlife trade that I work on (edible orchids).

The problem is we are connected to nature, but we loose sight of that connection.

This is coupled with barriers in being able to commune with nature including public wildlife areas being difficult to reach by public transport, terrain presenting physical challenges, and social challenges to people being allowed to feel comfortable, safe, and welcome in outdoor spaces.

Biodiversity and ecological illiteracy are additional limitations.

So when I write about people outdoors or wildlife it feels more like introducing the reader to an entity—a landscape or a species— that they might consume in products they buy or forage, and that they might see when they are out and about.

I love being out in wilderness. But I am particularly interested in nature that is easier to find—wild species hidden in products that appear on supermarket shelves, wildlife that inhabits cities, creeps along canal paths, or inhabits shorelines where you can find it without needing a boat or dive gear.”

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Show notes

  • Who Susanne is in her own words

  • What she does

  • Loving the outdoors, nature and wildlife

  • Studying and her progress as a scientist

  • Doing biology, chemistry, geography, physics and English literature

  • Choosing a degree as a teenager

  • Volunteering in the mental health service while at university

  • Moving to London

  • Working in mental health and substance misuse support services

  • Always having more interest in plants

  • Doing taxonomy studies on the side

  • Getting into more detail about taxonomy

  • Doing an 8-month journey around England, Wales, and Scotland in a campervan

  • Realising that knowing things about plants could be a job

  • Getting a Master's degree in Ethnobotany

  • Interviewing people about the plants they use for homebrew

  • Recognising how people connect with wild landscapes

  • Making her own homebrew

  • How she enjoys outdoor swimming

  • Having a dog around her

  • Moving to Bournemouth

  • Swimming at high altitude in Bhutan

  • Learning and understanding how the body works

  • Attending a big science conference in Bhutan - The International Society of Ethnobiology (ISE)

  • Hiking in Bumthang Valley

  • Her book: Wild Waters: A wildlife and water lover's companion to the aquatic world

  • Meeting and working with Alice Goodridge

  • Continuing swimming all throughout the year

  • Her plans for 2022 and 2023

  • Planning to finish her PhD next year

  • Having a sister with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

  • Looking after her niece along with her mom and dad

  • Doing a PhD on the International Trade in orchids

  • Final words of advice


Social Media

Instagram: @mastersmiss


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