Meet Waltraud “Traudi” Golla

Jasper National Park

What's your position title?

I work in Resource Conservation and do ecological monitoring (for Aquatics most of the time).

When did you first come to Jasper?

I came to Jasper in 2008 with my family. In 2010, I started volunteering for Jasper National Park, and in 2011 working for the field unit.

What was your education/career path?

After high school in a little town in Germany I did a two-year long apprenticeship as a landscape gardener. Then I started to study biology in Munich, Germany eventually specialising in zoology and botany.

I volunteered to work on a marmot project in the Bavarian Alps which was run by a post doc of the Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Physiology. Through this connection I’ve got an invitation by another member of the Max Planck Institute to do my masters in East Africa with spotted hyaenas in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. I extended my masters to a PhD study and was for three years in the Serengeti. It took me another three years to analyse all my data and write up my PhD thesis about factors influencing siblicide in spotted hyaena cubs and then to defend it.

In the Serengeti I met my husband and we now have three sons together. A year after my PhD defence we moved to Canada together and I stayed home taking care of the boys for the next 12 years. By that time, we had settled down in Jasper where I picked up my biology career again with Parks Canada. 

What do you do for Parks Canada?

I am a seasonal worker for Parks Canada, and usually work from May to October, (sometimes to December), for the aquatics group in Resource Conservation. My work is a mix of fieldwork and office work, which I enjoy a lot.

A typical work season could look like this: I organize and conduct amphibian studies in spring with many volunteers and colleagues. After that, I need to put all the collected data into a database. In spring, I also go on a aquatic field trip with the grade 3 students of the local elementary school explaining and discussing with them their different observations of water life. Our aquatic group wants to know how our fish species at risk are doing, so we electro-fish 300 m stretches in different creeks, counting the numbers of caught fish for later analysis. I hike to all our water temperature loggers to download the data, and transfer them then to the computer in the office.

When the water level of the rivers and creeks goes down in fall, we conduct our water quality samples at different locations in the park, by collecting macroinvertebrate samples in a special net. The invertebrate samples and water samples need to be sent off to labs; later, the collected site data needs to find its way to the database again.

I am also responsible for our work equipment being in good condition, and clean of all aquatic invasive species. In the late fall, when the water bodies are freezing over, I look through our equipment and order, if necessary, new items. I also catch up on all new research and knowledge about all things water I can find, from hydrology and fish, to water plants and environmental DNA.

What would you tell a 10-year-old girl about science?

Science is, for me, just another word for being curious, and trying to figure out things which puzzle you. When I was a girl, I was curious about the stars and their light; and the flowers, and how you could use them to heal illnesses; and where the creek of our town was coming from.

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