“The challenges I have faced have made me ever more appreciative for being where I am now and proud of everyone around me”
Which area of fire science do you specialise in?
I specialise in community-based fire management in savanna-protected areas across Southern and Eastern African – exploring the opportunities for, and benefits of, decolonising fire management in excludable and subtractable landscapes. My research investigates the burning practices and fire knowledges of diverse indigenous peoples and local communities across this region, specifically looking at the impacts of colonialism and imperialism on fire management frameworks, attitudes, and behaviours.
What do you like about working in fire science?
The two main conditions fires synthesise, geophysical dynamics and vegetation, have been fundamentally altered by anthropogenic activity. Therefore, fires can be viewed as symptoms of historical and contemporary social, environmental, political, economic, legal, cultural, and institutional challenges. Fires are a natural disturbance event and have engendered some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth, yet they increasingly exceed natural variability levels – extreme fire events are telling humans we have exceeded planetary boundaries!
What challenges have you faced in getting to where you are now?
I have experienced both personal and professional challenges and hurdles. I believe these challenges test our strength and ability to persevere and pursue our goals. Though they also highlight what is truly important in this world and help shape our outlook and approach to life. The challenges I have faced have made me ever more appreciative for being where I am now and proud of everyone around me – including all the incredible fire scientists at the centre!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love nature and being outside. In my free time, come rain or shine, I will be outside – running, hiking, cycling, ambling along… I also love to get creative – sketching, reading fantasy, writing, visiting an exhibition, gallery, or theatre production. History and visiting historical places are also passions of mine. If I am not reading fantasy, I am down some sort of historical research rabbit hole. And of course, spending time with family and friends – drinking coffee, bubbles, and dancing to some funk, soul, disco, and jazz!
Do you have any advice to give women wanting to pursue a career in science?
If you believe you can do it, you will! The right door will open at the right time – you just have to trust the journey! And never underestimate the power of a positive mental attitude!
Abi Croker is a PhD student in the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London
Read about other women in the Centre
The Centre is directed by a six-strong Leadership Team of a Director and Associate Directors, covering a wide range of areas of expertise that are crucial for the materialisation of our Centre: