Career Conversations

Since 2016, we have been organizing online discussions and panels on conservation career development. We encourage the young generation to learn about different career choices in conservation, create an effective career plan, and make connections with potential mentors and advisors. To achieve this goal, we invite academics and professionals with interdisciplinary training backgrounds in conservation, to share their career stories and experiences, and their advice to the young generation. We are highlighting parts of the conversations below.

Conservation scientists

Prof. Binbin li

Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy at Duke Kunshan University (China), and Assistant Professor at Nicholas School of Environmental, Duke University

“The difficulty of conservation is that it needs to solve real-world problems. A conservation scientist should put in more thoughts when designing a research study, such that the study not only adds value to the scientific community, but also addresses actual conservation problems.”

Prof. Fang Wang

Associate Professor and Doctoral Advisor at School of Life Science, Fudan University

“ I would like to offer three words of advice: 1) never conduct research with the attitude of doing a project. Otherwise you will rush to the end while missing some potentially interesting findings; 2) spend more time in the wild, to pick up more subtlety of nature; 3) when you observe some interesting phenomena in nature, try to verify it with classical ecological theories. If they don’t match up, delve deeper into the problem, because these inconsistencies might lead to pioneering findings. ”

Prof. Yang liu

Associate Professor and Doctoral Advisor of School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University

“ Conservation is where environmental issues and social problems meet. Addressing these challenges require the expertise and joint efforts of biologists, policy makers, media professionals and more. ”


Assistant Professor at Institute of Ecology, Peking University

“ Changes in conservation policies cannot happen in one stroke. Scientists should generate relevant data and prepare in advance, so that when the opportunity of policy reforming comes, we can seize it, or at least we have already fulfilled the prerequisites to offer solid scientific advice. ”

NGO workers

Wuying lin

Science Director at Guangxi Biodiversity Research and Conservation Association

“ On making a career choice, one should be aware of what kind of role he or she wants to play. For example, for those who want to influence decision-making, they need to gain insights in policy analysis or improve networking abilities; for those who hope to become a field conservationist, they need to develop technological and scientific knowledge or skills; for those who desire to advance public engagement, they need to practice their communication and outreach skills. ”


Executive Director of the Jane Goodall Institute China, Executive Director of Roots and Shoots Beijing

“ Our life pursuit should be rooted in what makes us feel enjoyable. I really enjoy what I am doing right now, however difficult it is. Just like the scenario of playing a game: being stuck in a level is painful, yet the enjoyment gained from clearing all the obstacles is unparalleled. Thus finding what interests you in a career is very important. ”


Research Scientist at EcoHealth Alliance, PhD Candidate at Kingston University

“ Interests are very important, and career exploration comes next. As for me, although I don’t directly work in the field of conservation, everything I undertake can serve for preserving endangered species to some extent. Indeed, many fields can contribute to conservation. If you genuinely care about conservation, you can find many ways to reach to this goal. Most importantly, you must hold a cheerful mood when doing your work. ”


Program Officer at IUCN North American Office in Washington, DC

“ Communication skills are essential. If you keep your network with people working in the same filed, they may refer or recommend you career opportunities, which is very common in job searching. Besides communication, being able to reflect on the work you do is also an important skill. ”

yifan he

Social Scientist at Conservation International Headquarter

“ For us, publishing a peer-reviewed journal article is not the ultimate goal. We constantly take the initiative to share our research results with the government officials and policy makers. Although our team is small, everyone has the opportunity to be involved in multiple aspects of a project, which is very helpful for early-career conservationists. ”

Sustainability Consultants

Yuanyuan qin

Formal Consultant at Climate Change and Sustainability Service Department, Ernst & Young Global Limited

“ On one hand, profit-driven companies generate many environmental problems. Yet on the other hand, they are also important stakeholders in solving these problems. This explains the importance of mobilizing the companies to voluntarily undertake more responsibilities in strategizing solutions, which has far-reaching impact on the society. ”


Sustainability Lead at North Asia of Interface

“ I believe that everyone should have the self-awareness to take actions. This will deliver a message to private sectors that consumers are becoming more conscious on environment than before. On realizing this, the companies will have the incentives to develop new eco-friendly products to cater to their consumers. ”