Kirstie Knowles in the museum's collection store
Source: Museum Victoria
Collection Registration Officer
Managing natural science databases requires an exceptional level of care and a good eye for detail. Kirstie works with fellow Registration Officer Bentley Bird to ensure that the Natural Sciences collections are accurately recorded on the museum’s collection database and are safely housed in the collection stores.
Growing up fossicking in British rock pools and being a big fan of David Attenborough’s BBC Wildlife documentaries, it is no surprise that Kirstie’s passion for nature became the focus of her career.
She studied Zoology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, concentrating her honours project on the decorating behaviour of British spider crabs. In between her studies Kirstie travelled to Africa to work with lowland gorillas and to the Philippines, where her diving skills were first put to use surveying remote coral reefs. After a stint as an Environmental Consultant in the UK, she went on to take a Masters in Tropical Coastal Management. Her theses focussed on community-based Marine Protected Area management and evaluation, which subsequently led to work studying tropical reefs in the Philippines, Bahamas and Tuvalu and temperate reefs in New Zealand and the UK.
Kirstie settled for a number of years in New Zealand, where she took a step away from research working as National Marine Conservation Advocate for one of the country's largest conservation groups. She gained extensive experience in marine policy and legislation, project management, database management, biodiversity promotion, education and public engagement and later went on to work for the Department of Conservation.
Kirstie joined the Museum Victoria as a volunteer in May 2013 after moving from New Zealand to Australia. Having previously enjoyed volunteering as an assistant marine invertebrate collection manager at New Zealand’s National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Kirstie jumped at the opportunity to assist with the Museum Victoria’s marine invertebrate collections. Her voluntary role involved helping to register a large collection of donated gastropod molluscs (marine snails) and later in the year led to her employment as a Collection Registration Officer.
Kirstie is currently working through the museum’s dry collection of gastropod molluscs to ensure that they are registered in full, with particular emphasis on the Victorian collections. She is also working to register some of the museum’s scientific artworks – illustrations and lithographic prints of some of Victoria’s fish, crustaceans, reptiles and moths.
As an experienced diver and amateur macro photographer, Kirstie’s passion has long been opisthobranch molluscs or sea slugs. She is a budding enthusiast to say the least and as a member of Victoria’s Marine Research Group (part of the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria) she is lapping up the opportunity to learn from local opisthobranch expert Robert Burn, who has collected many of the specimens in our collection, including a number of species new to science.