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Shereese Govender

2021 Intern

Shereese Govender is fascinated by nature and animals, and she believes in research and education as powerful tools for building knowledge. She hopes to use her expertise and passion to create a better future for people and the environment.
Shereese obtained her Honours degree in Marine Biology and a Master’s degree in Genetics, both from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

We asked her a few questions about her hopes for the WWF 2021 internship with the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity. Based in Grahamstown, she works as a Life Science Technician intern and her duties include DNA research on aquatic species, as well as carrying out the administration related to her lab work.

What are you passionate about?
I am fond of nature and animals, and I have a special interest in conservation. Over the last few years, I have learnt of the severity of the impacts of human-caused activities on marine life – from fishing gear entanglement to the pollution that harms marine creatures.
I’ve always been interested in conservation and research. My awareness of the extent of people’s impacts on the oceans has intensified my passion for understanding and safeguarding ecosystems.

I am participating in a project that aims to raise awareness on various aspects of conservation and environmental issues.

What inspired your choice of study?
When I was young, I saw an injured turtle in an aquarium in Durban, which sparked my interest in marine life. Consequently, I wanted to become a veterinarian to help injured and sick animals. However, since I do not handle loss very well, studying Marine Biology seemed like a great fit. It meant that I could learn more about the ocean and eventually help marine animals through conservation and environmental awareness programmes in which I am involved.

What excites you about your internship?
I have the opportunity to gain exposure to new protocols and procedures and learn new skills on current research in the aquatic environment. I am exceptionally excited to acquire more knowledge about environmental DNA, as well as next generation sequencing – a type of technology used in DNA research. I have already learnt more about laboratory-based research protocols and procedures than I did in the past two years while studying!
What are your expectations of this internship?
I expect to build my laboratory-based experience in genetics as well as science communication. I also hope to establish long-term professional relationships with like-minded people.

What contribution do you hope to make towards a future in which people and nature thrive?
I believe education is crucial in realising lasting results when one wants to achieve harmony between people and nature. People need to understand the value and importance of wildlife. We also need to understand how our actions and lifestyles contribute to biodiversity loss, as well as damaging and devastating impacts to the environment. I hope to conduct research in areas where human interactions with nature threaten wildlife and then to find alternatives or less-damaging methods for these interactions. I’d also like to raise awareness through accessible public education on these topics and what one could do to prevent anticipated negative outcomes.

Who inspires you the most and why?
My mother. Despite the difficulties she faced, she always found a way through them by working hard and persevering even when things seemed hopeless. She has always motivated me to do my best and told me that I could accomplish anything I set out to do if I gave it my all. She’s also encouraged me to do what I love and inspired my curiosity about nature and science.

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