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Natalie Prinz was born in Wiesbaden, a landlocked city in Germany. Her passion is nature, and she would like to devote her life to studying and sharing her knowledge about it. This passion was sparked by her father working on ships when Natalie was young – she had travelled around the world four times before she went to school!

This passion for the ocean carried on after graduating from high school, where she worked as a tour guide on the ships for a year. Afterwards, Natalie studied Marine Science at UWA for three years, staying in Australia for another year after that, then moving on to Germany to complete her Master’s degree. In the search for a suitable PhD position, Natalie has spent some time developing her science communication, education at schools, and scientific diving skills. Now, she is starting a new life – again on this side of the planet, in New Zealand. Oceania is increasingly becoming a more significant part of her life – it is becoming her home.

Words of wisdom

Keep up your excitement and good energy for what you are studying, no matter how hard the subjects are in the moment, you can do it and, in the end, it will be worth it!

A global experience beyond UWA

When I finished my Marine Science degree at UWA I moved up to Broome. Life brought me to a remote little pearl farm, Cygnet Bay on the Dampier Peninsula and after a scientific internship in the oyster hatchery, I worked as a pearling tour guide on the farm. During that time, I also conducted some research in Iceland during a summer school on marine megafauna and was accepted into a Master’s degree in northern Germany, focusing on tropical marine ecosystems. In Germany, I was able to help in various projects as a research assistant, most excitingly on the German Research vessel Polarstern during an expedition to the Arctic and northeastern Greenland. I carried out my Master project on the Cook Islands, where I studied the impact of tourism on coral reef fish. After graduating from Bremen, I engaged into different voluntary projects for science education, did an internship at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST in Saudi Arabia) and absolved my European Scientific Dive Certificate in Sweden. Last year, I became Germany’s All-Atlantic Ocean Youth Ambassador, working as part of a team of international ambassadors towards an All-Atlantic Forum before the European Commission in Brussels (February 2020). I now live in New Zealand for my PhD studies.

My Marine Science journey started at UWA and has not stopped! It is extremely exciting to be able to pursue this science in a changing world, with people increasingly realising the importance of this subject. The time at UWA has made me strong and assured me of what I want to do in my life: even though the first year as a 20-year-old international student wasn’t always easy, the subject kept me interested and my progress fostered my ambition to graduate with good grades. I am very grateful I could experience this because not only did I learn about the ocean and the Western Australian environment, it also made me who I am today.

Our changing world

My passion is nature and I would like to devote my life to sharing knowledge about it, to inspire this passion for nature in others. The way humans have lived on this planet up until today is not sustainable and I would like to become an actor of change to spread the feeling inside me of empathy and enthusiasm for our natural environment that we depend on. Humans are part of the system “Earth” and this is why we should act responsibly about the role that we play in it.

My passion is the ocean because it is an incredibly important part of our planet and as we know more about space than the deep sea, I would love to make ocean science knowledge available to people that do not study it, so we can all start understanding the ecosystem services it offers in this changing world. Making science accessible to people will be the first step to grow global awareness and create change towards ocean care. A change that grows from scientific facts, develops into beliefs and leads to changing behaviours.

Speaking out to the world

I guess in the last few years I have realised that I am a person who can spark excitement and communicate science. I have been awarded for sharing my research and have been given a voice as an Ocean Youth Ambassador. Moving to New Zealand and being able to work with Māori, iwi and local stakeholders, as well as teach at University, will expand my ability of how to learn, assimilate and convey knowledge. Therefore, I think, once I have finished my PhD, I will continue to share knowledge, communicate scientific findings and engage in initiatives involving people to act more sustainably for a better future. If that will be in Academia, NGO-work or Politics I don’t know yet.