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Examined Life – Dr Rhys Jones (BSc 1999, MPhil 2003, PhD 2010)

Rhys Jones

Dr Rhys Jones is a Cardiff University Lecturer, reptile specialist, environmental consultant, researcher and broadcaster.

I grew up on a Council estate in a very poor area of Cardiff. My grandfather would always take me to visit the National Museum Cardiff and if I was lucky I would go on an extended walk around Cardiff’s civic centre. Those beautiful white stone buildings always seemed like another world to me and I think I fell in love with them at an early age. Later in life when I decided to pursue a career in Biology there was simply no other place I would have wanted to study than Cardiff University and after attending an open day, I knew there was nowhere else I was going to study.

My second year Tropical ecology field course in Kenya was a life changing experience – it changed the way I looked at both myself and the planet. I’d read about Kenya since I was a small child and suddenly I was there dwarfed by the environment, surrounded by its wildlife and immersed in its culture. I had the opportunity to meet local tribal communities, extensively explore Kenya’s varied habitats and experience the most incredible wildlife encounters.

Soon after graduating I travelled to Kenya to film my series Rhys to the Rescue for BBC Wales. I travelled across Kenya showcasing my work with crocodiles, snakes and rhinos. I also took up the position of Distinguished Visiting Fellow lecturing for Cardiff University.

My day to day work can range from exploring hominid evolution in a lecture theatre to filming Egyptian mummied cobras!
My role is split between my lecturing responsibilities at Cardiff University and my media career. I remained at Cardiff University in the capacity of Distinguished Visiting Fellow before taking the position of Lecturer. In addition, after six years of being the presenter and scientific advisor on Rhys Jones’s Wildlife Patrol on BBC One and BBC Wales, I started filming documentaries for Channel 5, Discovery, Animal Planet and National Geographic.

Quite simply my Cardiff University degrees have made my career possible. My first was an Honours degree in Genetics and Zoology, my second a Masters of Philosophy in Medical Molecular Entomology, and my last was a PhD in Phylogenetics, Herpetology and Environmental Science. The expertise I gained though reading these degrees allowed me to go on and deliver the lectures and media I do today.

My advice for current students is too enjoy every second of your study at Cardiff and follow up every opportunity offered to you. It’s so important to take time during your week to really reflect on what you have accomplished and to enjoy where you are. You will not believe how quickly three years go!

Cardiff University has left a lasting impression on me as it’s quite simply my home.
If I had to describe Cardiff University in five words it would be ambitious, innovative, distinguished, successful, and friendly. It’s where I feel my most creative and productive. It’s at the root of everything I do and where I feel my happiest. I’ve made a journey from student to lecturer at Cardiff University, and some of the most important and exciting decisions of my live have been made here.