Prof Colleen T. Downs (BSc Hons, MEd, PhD, Pr Nat Sci) has been at the University of KwaZulu-Natal since 1994. She is a Professor in the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus and is a University Fellow. She holds a NRF SARCHI Research Chair in Ecosystem health and biodiversity in KZN and the E. Cape. She is a terrestrial vertebrate biologist with broad and multidisciplinary research interests. These include conservation, ecology, physiology and behaviour of terrestrial vertebrates (herps, birds and mammals) in unpredictable environments and with changing land use. Another interest is science education (particularly problems experienced by Biology students and development of strategies to address these). Her other contribution has been in the development of research capacity, particularly at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She was appointed as BirdLife South Africa’s Honorary President for 2016-2020.