To the Bat Cave! Exploring to Save a Species

After purchasing the poles and three weeks of long days in the workshop amidst the haze of sawdust, I finished building and installing the bat houses. They soon not only became occupied by bats, but also became homes for mother bats with their young! Despite some self-doubt and doubt from others along the way, I had managed to achieve my goal.

After college,  I moved to the opposite side of the world. I spent a year in South Australia on a Fulbright Program Scholarship studying a critically endangered bat species, living alone in a national park. My experiences tackling projects I initially thought I wasn’t good at gave me the confidence to take on this new adventure. I even learned how to use novel technology like thermal imaging cameras and automated tracking systems to conduct population counts of the bats.

Most recently, I spent six years during my Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program studying endangered pollinating bats in northeast Mexico, with generous support from an Explorers Club Exploration Fund Grant. I worked in remote areas with a team of collaborators, sometimes doing field work as an all-woman team. Not surprisingly, when venturing out with all women, we would receive comments questioning our ability to be out “alone” at night or the wisdom of such a decision. Despite these gendered attitudes, we had a blast doing our field work and contributing to the conservation of an endangered bat species.

Now, as Dr. Lear, I work as an Endangered Species Interventions Specialist at Bat Conservation International, living my dream of protecting bats. Of course, living the dream wouldn’t be complete without sharing that dream with others.