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The Gap Year Blog

Research & Development Intern: Sofia Regalado

17 Jan 2020 17:25 PM

Sofia Regalado, 23, has studied at both the College of the Holy Cross in Boston, USA, and the University of Melbourne, Australia, where she pursued her interest in the environment with Environmental Science and specialised in tropical ecosystems. Now that she's decided to settle in London for a while, we are lucky enough to have her with us as a Research & Development Intern. We spoke to her about conservation and her position at Frontier...

What is your background?

For the most part of my life I was raised in El Salvador and was lucky enough to live right next to the Pacific coast with a grand view of the ocean surrounded by volcanoes, lush plants and birds of all colours. Perhaps it was this constant exposure to nature but I knew from a young age that I wanted a career studying and protecting the environment. I was always fascinated by how interconnected everything in nature is and how perfectly balanced it is when its left untouched. While living in El Salvador I got involved in a few local hands-on conservation efforts but I particularly found promoting environmental education amongst younger generations to be the most satisfying and hopefully the most impactful. It’s cool to see how environment conservation can help fuel an economy but first you need people to understand how much we can benefit from protecting natural resources. At 18 I left to study Environmental Science in Boston and completed a year in Melbourne where I focused on studying tropical ecosystems. I’ve been living abroad since then, and have now moved to London on a permanent basis before finding my internship with Frontier.


Why did you choose Frontier?

I like that Frontier has implemented long term conservation efforts in the countries where it has projects. I don’t think it's great when organizations just go somewhere, implement a project and quickly leave. Instead, Frontier develops genuine and long lasting relationships with local communities and I know firsthand the staff here deeply care about the conservation work Frontier does and the communities that benefit from our efforts.


What are your duties?

Since starting in September (time has flown by!) I have primarily been working on creating field methodology manuals in order to help volunteers understand the conservation fieldwork they will be doing in-country and help them get a head start with species identification. I’ve also been submitting grants to fund our research and have got to travel around the UK a bit for events.


What interests you within the conservation field?

One of my biggest problems is that I have too many interests when it comes to the environment and there are so many pathways to explore! I would love to study tropical plants in depth, but am also fascinated by the ocean and how we can rebuild coral reef systems. I also think being a restoration ecologists and bringing damaged ecosystems back to life would be really cool.


What does the future hold?

I’d like to stay in London for at least one more year and get more work experience in the environment sector and after that I’m hoping I’ll have more of an idea of what I’d like to focus on for a masters but probably something along the lines of sustainable development. At some point I also really want to learn how to freedive a bit!


Who would you recommend this internship to?

Anyone with a love for nature and traveling! Although even if someone doesn’t come from a science or outdoorsy background, Frontier offers a wide scope of learning opportunities all in a very young and positive environment.