Umilaela Arifin

EU Researcher (Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow), Center of Natural History, Museum Zoology, University of Hamburg

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Be persistent and persevere.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I have been studying frogs from Indonesia and the Southeast Asian regions since my undergrad, particularly (but not limited to) their diversity, systematics, taxonomy, and evolution. In the last seven years, I have been focusing my research on a rare Asian frogs that possess a very unique larval form (the tadpoles have belly sucker, which is used to cling onto rocks to survive the strong currents at the stream where they live!).

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

It never crossed my mind that I would end up becoming a scientist, especially who is studying frogs because I used to not like frogs. I participated an international research expedition for amphibian and reptiles in the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia for three months in 2013, and my life was totally changed afterwards. I started to develop my interest in amphibians and reptiles through this expedition. I realised how much diversity my home country has and very few Indonesian scientists, which are not enough for such an enormous biodiversity in the country. I feel like hearing the voice within me (as a local), wondering why so many foreign scientists are interested to work in Indonesia, but not Indonesian. Thus, I decided to become a scientist who will take part in exploring and conserving the biodiversity of Indonesia, before it is too late.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

I grew up in a village in a small town in Indonesia and many people from my neighbourhood work abroad, but not as intellectual labours (e.g., baby sitter, waitress, caretaker). I once wondering if I could go and work abroad as well, but as an intellectual labours (using my brain to work). I didn't know that it would be possible to do that until I joined that expedition and later my life had brought me to Germany for my doctoral degree and now working as a researcher in this country. I would tell my younger me that everything start with a dream, but being persistence and perseverance are the keys to realise your dream.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

STEM is a dynamic field, no dead end in studying STEM. New questions, new discoveries, new things everyday.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

Being persistent and perseverance are the best advice I could give, according to my own experience.

INSPO / FUN FACT

I have many favourite quotes, but one of them is by the ancient Chinese philosopher who said "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step".

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