Hailing from the mother city, Debbie grew up exploring the mountains of the Western Cape. This fostered her love of the natural world and planted the seed for a future in conservation. After spending some time travelling in Europe and Africa, the lure of gaining a deeper understanding of the world around her led her to complete her BSc undergraduate degree in Zoology & Genetics. During her studies, she volunteered as a field assistant for a research project studying chacma baboons in the Tokai forest. This included behavioural observations documenting social bonds and sources of external stresses experienced by the baboons. She has also assisted in SANCCOB's research department. In 2016, Debbie completed her Honours degree in Molecular and Cell Biology at UCT. Her Honours thesis involved the recovery and analysis of ancient DNA from mammal bones, up to ±11000 years old, excavated from various archaeological sites in the Western Cape.
Debbie would now like to build on these foundations, and play a more direct role in conservation. She hopes to develop novel approaches to balancing the needs of local communities with species conservation and ecosystem diversity. Debbie is also enjoying the new adventure of motherhood. Seeing the world afresh through the eyes of her baby boy has made contributing to the conservation of our planet’s beauty and uniqueness particularly important to her.