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Memphis Zoo Curator Featured In New Book

Memphis Zoo Curator Featured In New Book

Women in Field Biology—A Journey Into Nature is a book that will be published on August 23rd. The book discusses the long neglected and often overlooked role that women have played in the biological sciences and puts a spotlight on women that are currently working in this profession. Dr. Sinlan Poo, Curator of Research here at the Memphis Zoo is one of 75 women featured in this book. Dr. Sinlan Poo is originally from Taiwan, but has lived, studied, and worked in the United States, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Panama, and Ecuador. Dr. Sinlan Poo has a member of the Memphis Zoo team for the past six years and was recently promoted to Curator of Research in July. In anticipation for the release of the book, we sat down with Dr. Sinlan Poo to discuss her career as a female working in the biological sciences.  


  • Where are you from and how long have you worked for the Memphis Zoo?
    • I am originally from Taiwan, but have lived, studied, and worked in the United States, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Panama, and Ecuador. I have worked for the Memphis Zoo for the last six years. 
  • When did you know that you wanted to study biological sciences and why were you interested in a career in field biology?
    • My interest in field biology really started from a semester-long tropical ecology field course in Ecuador during college. Through this course, I got to live and conduct small field projects in tropical rainforest, montane, and coastal ecosystems and really get a taste for what it is like to live and work as a field biologist. To observe the natural world around us and come up with questions to satisfy your curiosity about the world. 
  • Can you touch on what it has been like being a woman in STEM or what it has been like working in a male dominated field?
    • While I have benefited from progress that’s made by all the women that have blazed a trail before us, being a woman in STEM, which is still a male dominated field, is constantly challenging and constantly frustrating.  
  • Why do you think this book is important and what are you most excited about its release?
    • The reason I’m so excited for this book is to show the rich history of women who work in field biology. Their side of the story has never been written before and was unknown to me and perhaps to a lot of other people. We often hear about the discoveries that men have made, and unfortunately, it’s not surprising that women were excluded from the male-centric world of natural history and science. However, from European women field biologists in the late 1800s to those of us still in this profession today, women have and continue to play an important role as field biologist in conservation, wildlife, ecology, restoration, and endless fields of study. So it is exciting to have this book and to learn more about the past, think about the present, so that we can look towards the future. 
  • What advice do you have for younger girls who are interested in a career in science?
    • I would say that you have more opportunities now than ever before, as we can see in this book on the history of Women in Field Biology, but that there are still a lot of obstacles you will face. But perhaps by reading about other people’s experiences and the perspectives from this large group of 75 women who are currently field biologists, you will be able to pioneer your own path as a woman in science.   
  • What brought you to the Memphis Zoo and why do you think it is such a special place?
    • I came to the Memphis Zoo because there was a job opening for a researcher to work on amphibian conservation, which is one of my main research interests. Most people don’t think of zoos as conservation organizations or research-driven institutions, but I think the more zoos focus on and invest funds into conservation research and the more impact we can all make in the field of science. 
  • What is one of your favorite studies that you have done and why?
    • My favorite study changes frequently, because I am often most excited about the most recent idea I have or study I’m working on. Right now, that would be my summer research project looking at how captivity affects breeding of adult frogs and how it affects their tadpoles that we want to release into the wild. This is a great collaborative effort between myself, my summer research interns Rylie Strasbaugh and Tracey Malter, and Research Associate Allison Bogisich at the Memphis Zoo Amphibian Lab and Dr. Lori Neuman-Lee and her students at the Ecophysiology Lab at Arkansas State University. All of whom are wonderful women in STEM. 


The Memphis Zoo applauds Dr. Sinlan Poo’s hard work over the past six years and this amazing accomplishment. Again, Women in Field Biology will be published on August 23rd