Say hello to Tallulah Davey, Research Assistant in the Marine Ecology Lab at Trinity College Dublin and a My Green Lab Ambassador! Tallulah has had a passion for nature conservation from a young age and is a champion of laboratory sustainability. She obtained her degree in Zoology from Trinity College Dublin and has been recognized as a Climate Ambassador with An Taisce - The National Trust for Ireland. Tallulah is dedicated to spreading awareness and promoting green alternatives in order to create collective, positive change.
"I aim to promote implementing a green perspective at the forefront of research, and to continue familiarizing myself with green alternatives, so that the most sustainable path becomes second nature," says Tallulah.
Read on to learn more about Tallulah and her sustainability journey below!
Please tell us a bit about yourself - where you’re from, your background, your career, etc.
I’m Tallulah, and I am a marine scientist and sustainability enthusiast born in Australia, and raised in my hometown in Dublin, Ireland. I have been passionate about marine life and nature conservation since I can remember, when I first went snorkeling in my mother’s hometown in the Tropics. Living in Ireland, I have developed a strong appreciation of nature, and hope to channel this to contribute towards nature preservation for future generations.
Throughout my undergraduate degree in Zoology at Trinity College Dublin, I developed a passion for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation, which I enjoy dedicating my time to focus on. I find inspiration in community and am involved in local projects with grassroots climate groups, such as on lab sustainability and wildlife conservation, and am delighted to have been recognized as a Climate Ambassador with An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland.
Since 2020, I have been working as a Research Assistant in the Marine Ecology Lab at Trinity College as part of Prof. Nessa O’Connor’s group, where my research focuses on the effects of climate change on marine ecosystems and in how seaweeds may mitigate these effects. My main roles include research, resource management, lab coordination, procurement, and student supervision, and I aim to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of the role as a My Green Lab Ambassador. Our lab group has been working hard in the Zoology Department to become Green Lab Certified with My Green Lab by the end of 2022.
What drives you to be more sustainable in the laboratory?
Working in the lab daily, I became aware of the environmental impact labs can have over time, and scaling this up to the University level it quickly becomes apparent how large of a footprint this can have overall. Much of the research in my lab group is dedicated to understanding the implications of climate change in the marine environment, and as climate change mitigation is at the forefront of our research, this provides great motivation to adopt sustainable practices and reflect this in our daily lab practices, too.
There has been a movement in recent years led by students and staff at Trinity College Dublin to enhance lab sustainability on campus. The TCD Green Labs committee provide great inspiration and support through shared experiences on how to tackle problems such as plastic waste, water management, energy consumption, and procurement, including the development of a Trinity Green Labs Guide to encourage as many labs to get involved. Joining this community of green labs has been highly motivating to achieve meaningful change.
As a marine ecology lab, much of what we do does not fall into the category of other labs, for example, that are resource heavy in plastic (pipette tips, gloves) or chemicals. Instead, we focus on the impact of our lab experiments that are run in indoor seawater tanks, energy-use, and fieldwork. Some initiatives we have been implementing include waste reduction, monitoring and reducing our water and energy consumption while running experiments, managing our lab inventory to avoid unnecessary resource consumption, and in purchasing equipment through suppliers committed to sustainable criteria.
We aim to spread awareness and share a roadmap for similar labs in the Natural Sciences throughout our journey to green lab certification, as we hope this may inspire others to do the same. Our lab group are driven and enthusiastic to reach our goal for green certification with My Green Lab by the end of the year.
What is the most interesting thing you learned while becoming a My Green Lab Ambassador?
While becoming a My Green Lab Ambassador, the most interesting thing I learned is how implementing small changes over time in the lab can lead to having a huge, positive impact.
The program equipped me with a great deal of knowledge on the extent to which labs contribute to the climate crisis, and notably, how much of this can be avoided through having open conversations and encouraging behavioral change. For example, I was surprised to learn of the energy requirements for cold storage, and the extent of water and energy use that can be avoided through simple adaptations. Our lab has taken this on board through implementing improvements, such as freezer maintenance and switching to -70°C, installing tap aerators, and managing our equipment to reduce energy use.
I find stories of other Ambassadors inspiring and continued support from the My Green Lab Community has reminded me of the power of collective action, and how much we can achieve when working as a community.
How has the My Green Lab Ambassador Program enriched your sustainability journey?
My sustainability journey has been enriched by the depth of information, resources, and support available through the My Green Lab Ambassador Program to encourage systems change. The benefits of being part of this program stretch beyond the workplace. In creating a culture of lab sustainability, I found the program to empower behaviour change and has encouraged me to promote involvement in sustainability in my local community, with family and with friends.
What are your personal sustainability goals?
I aim to promote implementing a green perspective at the forefront of research, and to continue familiarizing myself with green alternatives, so that the most sustainable path becomes second nature. I look forward to becoming certified with My Green Lab with my coworkers from the O’Connor Marine Ecology Lab at Trinity College Dublin, and encouraging as many others as possible to get involved in implementing green labs practices. I hope to initiate lab sustainability conversations that are empowering and hopeful discussions, and I look forward to using this opportunity as a My Green Lab Ambassador to create collective, positive change.
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