Mary Cowling took her interest in the environment to New Zealand to study fur seals.
"I've always been interested in the environment and wanted to focus on it as a career. I chose VU because it offered a range of research areas, and a lot of practical training and field work. That really appealed to me.
One of my teachers – who is well known for her work on the effect of tourism on dolphins – had been contacted by the New Zealand Department of Conservation to conduct a similar study on fur seals. She recommended I do it for my research project.
I spent four months in the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand's North Island. I received a VU postgraduate scholarship and the New Zealand study became the basis for my masters degree.
My goal is to further my skills and become a marine research scientist."