All children are special, especially when given the opportunity. They have the potential to achieve extraordinary things, even from a very young age. Brisbane girl Grace Fulton is one such girl, who’s been helping her father with field research to help protect owl species around southeast Queensland since the age of four.
Not only she is a field-scientist, but she also has a research article published in a scientific journal, which, according to her father, possibly makes her Australia’s youngest scientist.
She is fortunate to have University of Queensland ecologist and researcher Graham Fulton as her father, and she joins him regularly to find data on owl species. Fulton is delighted by her daughter’s curiosity and passion for protecting birds.
As any parent should, Fulton doesn’t push her towards certain subjects, but still hopes she will maintain her love for nature. He says, “I will lead her to the forest and if the rest follows, then good.”
Her father stated that she was only four when she started spending time with him in the rainforest, in search of owls. Now, Grace is a few steps behind to being an owl-expert — she knows all of their calls.
Grace says, “I like owls because they are soft, which makes them fly quietly.”
On her accomplishments, Fulton says, “She got lead authorship on one paper and author on another paper because she spotted what the birds were doing and had the curiosity to follow it up.”
From time to time, they conduct researches in different places. “We were keen to compare how forest owls and other nocturnal birds do in dense urban areas compared to leafy, wild places like Mount Glorious,” Fulton said.
However, Grace’s passion for wildlife is not only directed at owls. She absolutely loves snakes and leeches too. She says, “I like leeches because they walk funny and they suck your blood.”
Currently, there is no Guinness World Record for the youngest published scientist; however, back in 2017, an 8-year-old who was bullied for her love of bugs was reported as being the youngest author of a published scientific paper. We couldn't find any records that challenged Sophia'a, so Grace might have broken her record by two years.
When asked about her future career choices, Grace says, “I want to be a butterfly scientist.” And we truly hope that she becomes one.
Their research has been published in Pacific Conversation Biology.