Roads Taken

Environmental Focus: Fiona Danks on avoiding pigeonholes and seeking adventure

Episode Summary

As though college life in New Hampshire weren’t cold enough, conservation scientist Fiona Danks found her passion for the environment unfold in the Artic. She learned how to seek adventure in not just the cryosphere but also her desk job, both in academia and in the field. Find out how environment is a complex thing and how you might just find adventure where you look for it.

Episode Notes

Guest Fiona Danks, Dartmouth '96, thought she was going to be a doctor or veterinarian and has almost all of the pre-med credits to prove it. But she didn’t love the competitive nature of those courses and was drawn instead to geography. A happy chance of a lack of summer funding led her to Arctic science, which just happened to meld her love of biology and the physical and human sides of geography.

Not wanting to be pigeonholed into one narrow field, though, she stayed away from doctoral programs—until she didn’t—and kept finding ways to expand her knowledge and experience base, both inside the classroom and in the field.

After years of adventuring, running an Arctic research center in Svalbard—think polar bears, reindeer, and lots and lots of snow—she is now in an office job in Cambridge. But the impact that she’s having on a variety of the world’s conservation issues is just as breathtaking as when she was in snowshoes. 

In this episode, find out from Fiona how sometimes environment is a complex thing and you might just find adventure where you look for it…on  ROADS TAKEN…with Leslie Jennings Rowley. 


About This Episode's Guest

Fiona Danks is Head of the Science Programme at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), where she helps to develop tools and processes to aid decision makers understand how to account for the value of biodiversity in policy-making for development and the environment. She also teaches and advises students at Fitzwilliam College at the University of Cambridge. And if there is ever a future medical doctor or vet in the making, our money would be on Fiona. 




Executive Producer/Host: Leslie Jennings Rowley

Music: Brian Burrows


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