The funniest things happen when you’re out in the middle of a field – or bog, jungle, desert, wood, moor, alpine meadow – trying your best to do science. Sometimes, the science doesn’t want to be done and your equipment stops working. Sometimes your target species doesn’t play ball. Sometimes the weather intervenes. Sometimes, you just have a giant brainfart that derails everything. Rarely does everything go exactly to plan. 

Fieldwork can be a deeply enjoyable and satisfying experience, even when things go awry. It’s also essential from a scientific point of view, providing opportunities to study organisms in their natural habitat and expanding our understanding of how to conserve species and combat climate change. Yet the public awareness of both fieldwork and ecology is not as good as it could be. 

Television and film can have a powerful effect on people’s perceptions of a subject. The X-Files inspired a generation of women to become interested in science, technology, engineering and maths with what is now known as The Scully Effect. Bones encouraged women into science, as has Black Panther’s Shuri

Can we do the same for ecology? 

Fieldwork is a short film project which aims to not just capture some of the hilarity of fieldwork, but also communicate the importance of ecology as a career and the essential scientific role that fieldwork plays. And your anecdotes could play an important part in developing the script. 

I’m looking for ecologists who’ve worked in the field and would be up for having a chat about their experiences – the good, the bad, the funny and, in particular, the scientific. I’d love to know what you’re studying and why it’s important, as well as where you go to do fieldwork and where you stay. And, of course, I’d love to know about the times things went amusingly wrong, and why. 

If you’d like to take part in this project then you can either email me to arrange a time to talk, or book an interview via Calendly. Or you can fill in as much or as little of our survey as you’d like

Although my first output is a short film script, I will also be developing a pilot and treatment for an ongoing TV series, as well as looking at other opportunities to develop the concept in other media. 

Fieldwork is part of the International Collaboration on Mycorrhizal Ecological Traits, organised by the University of York, University of Edinburgh, Dartmouth College and Ada Lovelace Day. It is funded by the National Environment Research Council (NERC), Grant Number: NE/S008543/1. Click for full participant information, including consent and privacy policies.

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