Dr Jennifer Lavers was just a young girl in Canada when she knew she needed to commit herself to conservation.
"The city that I grew up in, for me, appeared to be the complete opposite of who I was," Dr Lavers said.
"Not just the city but the whole province really prided itself on being a province of oil, gas, cattle, forestry and essentially extractive resources."
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Dr Lavers never felt at home in the place she was born, she never felt like she was surrounded by "her people".
Despite her young age, she knew she needed to get away if she was ever going to be able to do something to address what she knew was a huge issue - the inconceivable amount of finite resources being used.
"Here I was as a young person growing up at a time where environmental issues were sort of being talked about but they weren't front of place, but in my mind they were," she said.
"The only thing that was sure and stable for me was that I wanted to be a biologist, I wanted to do conservation and I wanted to work with wildlife."Dr Jennifer Lavers
Despite the incongruence she felt, the juxtaposition of what Dr Lavers wanted to be and where she lived ended up instilling within her a dedication to conservation and wildlife.
In reality, the contrast made the fire in Dr Lavers' belly swell into a stubbornness that she has continued to carry with her into her life.
Now 42-years-old and one of University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies research leaders Dr Lavers boasts a life any budding biologist could only dream of.
She has found herself doing field research in the subarctic on a set of islands not far from the coast of Greenland, studying on tiny atolls in Hawaii and living large parts of her life on the remotest islands in the world.
Other than the wealth of worldliness her studies have afforded her, it has consolidated exactly what she knew as a child - the environment is existentially threatened by things humans are doing.
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Upon reflection, two visceral moments of pain and disbelief have stuck with Dr Lavers through her 24 years of study and have continued to sit at the front of her mind, pushing her forward when all else seems lost.
"We were not directly working with the indigenous community in the region but because we were in such a remote location we needed them for logistical support and so we got to spend quite a bit of time with them," Dr Lavers said.
"They would tell us stories of how they'd grown up, how different their life was and how connected they were to country and through those conversations ... I realised how much that part of the world had changed and how rapidly."Dr Jennifer Lavers
In only 20 years the part of the world Dr Lavers was working had changed from the point where snow and ice cover only proliferated the region until March where only two decades earlier the cold snap lasted until June.
For the indigenous people Dr Lavers had become so close to, the change was having a profound effect.
"I would talk with the indigenous community about how it impacted their lives and there was one man in particular, Les, told me this story about he had to get taken from his community to the main city to be trained in under water, under ice, cold water rescuing," Dr Lavers said.
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But it was not just Les, a member of every indigenous community in the area needed the specific, high-level training because an increasing number of people from the communities were trying to cross the ice but not making it.
For Dr Lavers, the idea that such a remote community was feeling such a significant impact from something they were not contributing to broke her heart.
"I had this moment of realisation of my first collision course with climate change where I realised in the span of my life, these remote communities had no role in climate change had been completely transformed."Dr Jennifer Lavers
"I just could not reconcile that. The human story just blew me away. The town was 200, 300, 500 or 1000 people at the most and their lives had been completely changed."
While climate change continued to play on her mind, it was a second "collision course" that affirmed the next stage of her studies and what she would eventually dedicate herself to.
Immediately after her encounter with the indigenous community, Dr Lavers began work on the French Frigate Shoals almost 1000 kilometres off the coast of Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
When working there, in one of the most remote places in the world, it was another clear impact on the environment that stopped her in her tracks.
"When I got there, that was my collision course with the impact of plastics," Dr Lavers said.
Though conservation had always been the name of her game, when Dr Lavers realised the impact of mass produced plastics on the environment she drew a line in the sand.
"I went there to study the birds and when I arrived they were hatching chicks and when I left those exact same chicks were dying and their carcasses were splitting open from decomposition and in those broken down carcasses were cigarette lighters and toothbrushes and fishing fragments and bottle caps."Dr Jennifer Lavers
"I had literally watched them go through their entire life cycle and gotten friendly with some of those chicks and within a span of three to five months they were dead from being full of junk."
Dr Lavers made the harrowing discovery in 2005 and she said the devastating impact of plastic waste was hardly on anybody's radar.
So much so, when she attempted to communicate the gravity of what she had seen, she had trouble getting anyone that could fund further study interested in it.
Though the money was not forthcoming, the impact of what Dr Lavers had seen was burned so deeply within her psyche she would stop at nothing to define how significant the impact of plastics in the ocean actually was.
"I only got to start working on plastics full time and pain in late 2016. For the intervening years between 2007 and 2016 anything I wrote, published or talked about about plastics was unpaid," Dr Lavers said.
"I was literally going to Lord Howe Island every year using things like frequent flyer points and getting people to donate their frequent flyer points to my project and I was scrimping and saving my pennies and taking nothing but volunteers and living dollar to dollar trying to collect data for this project."Dr Jennifer Lavers
Dr Lavers work may have started from humble beginnings, but the years after research groups started to take note of her work have given her the ability to maintain what is now the longest running plastic congestion monitoring project in the Southern Hemisphere.
Though her works has garnered wider respect Dr Lavers still continues to fear there is complacency about how significant an impact ocean plastics are having on the world.
She said even the advent of a commitment to biodegradable and compostable plastic was not necessarily a positive.
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In the past week Dr Lavers has released the latest data from her study that shows plastic waste is having an even bigger impact that first imagined with it contributing to higher sand temperatures which are forcing animals living on particular beaches to face the option of leaving or dying.
And despite Dr Lavers' ongoing commitment and the obvious importance of her work, there is no guarantee the gravity of the situation is being understood.
"I think for me one of the saddest things is two things: It feels like we haven't learnt anything from other environmental emergencies ... and I have sat on the precipice of thinking 'it can't be like that again. We have to have learnt from this.'"
"Yet again, though, I feel like we are making those same mistakes at an alarming rate."Dr Jennifer Lavers
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