Hello wildlife lover!

Ready to help wildlife today?

I am so glad you are here!

Wildlife needs people like YOU who genuinely care about our beautiful planet Earth more than ever before. There are so many ecological challenges out there, but together, I truly believe we can reverse the damage that is going on. Here’s what you can do right now:

Hi, I’m Stephanie Manka, Ph.D. (formerly Schuttler). 

As a wildlife biologist, author, educator, and founder of Fancy Scientist, I’m on a mission to help wildlife by teaching people just like you about science, conservation, and research, empowering and preparing aspiring and entry-level  wildlife professionals so they can secure good jobs in this competitive career, offering inspiration and hope to this “doom-and-gloom” field and conservation actions into your daily life so that we can collectively make a difference. 

You can read more about me in the sections below.

Stephanie Schuttler Filming
Fieldwork packing list

Me at a glance:

⭐️ B.A. (2003), 3 internships, a Ph.D. (2012), and 7 years of postdocs in the government, zoos, museums, academia, and alongside nonprofits: 15+ yrs experience

⭐️ 20+ peer-reviewed scientific publications across topics in animal behavior, mammal communities, predator-prey relationships, non-invasive genetics, satellite telemetry, social science, and citizen/community science – full CV here

⭐️ Study species and systems across four continents (I’m an expert in forest elephants!)

⭐️ Author of Getting a Job in Wildlife Biology: What It’s Like and What You Need to Know and My First Book of Earth

⭐️ Regular contributor to the Science Channel’s “What on Earth” and the History Channel’s “The Proof is Out There”

⭐️ Experience on large, collaborative open access projects such as Wildlife Insights with prestigious organizations like the Smithsonian

⭐️ Career mentor making aspiring and early career professionals competitive for jobs in wildlife

⭐️ TEDx speaker

⭐️ Founder of Fancy Scientist LLC

I am also…

⭐️ VERY down to earth and relatable even though I have worked with some of the best scientists in my field and have a Ph.D.

⭐️ An advocate for mental health, work-life balance, and not defining yourself by your career

⭐️ Open about my own career and personal struggles including battling depression and overcoming a severe case of impostor syndrome

⭐️ A lover of coaching, self improvement books and courses, and am constantly working to improve myself or make things more efficient

⭐️ Optimistic – not naturally – but through years of working on myself using practices from neuroscience

⭐️ FUN! I love to laugh, and do not take life too seriously

What this means is…

I genuinely care about you and understand the struggles you are going through. I was never the smartest student, but I worked hard and at my core, believed in myself.  I believe anyone can become competitive for wildlife jobs once they really understand the job and themselves. 


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Why the Fancy Scientist? 

When you think of science, wildlife, or conservation, probably the last thing you think about is being fancy. 

I have always loved wildlife and nature. But I also have always loved dressing up, putting on makeup, and fashion. When I was a young girl, I would get muddy looking for crayfish in creeks, and catch (and release) frogs and snakes, but I also played dress-up with my friends, trying on my mom’s clothes and makeup, and getting my Barbies glamorous for their dates. I loved drawing and would draw scenes of grizzly bears catching salmon and on the next page a series of fashion designs. 

When I found out about careers in wildlife biology, I was elated because I could finally turn my love of wildlife into a profession, but I quickly found out that I didn’t quite fit in. Most people wore Tevas and brands like Columbia and Patagonia to work, which I love, but I reserved for the field. Instead, I wore dressy blouses, shoes with heels, and sparkly jewelry. Hardly any of my colleagues wore any makeup at all, meanwhile I loved to experiment with different shades of eyeshadow every day. 

In graduate school, although I loved dressing up and wearing makeup, I didn’t feel comfortable doing it because I was worried people were judging me or thinking I spent too much time on those things over science (which is not true). Although I was fancier than most, I held back a lot, and quite honestly, didn’t feel that good. Not being able to wear colorful makeup and sparkles dampened my spirit and my confidence.

Girl at Alleghany
Stephanie Schuttler with Camera trap

When I started my postdoc at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, the work culture was different because I was now not only surrounded by scientists. I no longer felt uncomfortable embracing who I really was. 

Gifts for conservationists

I started to dress up again and became happier and more confident. My postdoc included working with K-12 teachers and like most people, they did not expect a scientist, especially a wildlife biologist, to be wearing dangly earrings and mascara. The teachers loved this and kept telling me how fancy and called me the fancy scientist.

I loved this name and embraced it full on. Because of my work in classrooms, I wanted to show kids, especially girls, that they don’t have to look a certain way to be in science. I want them to see that they too can be a fancy scientist and feel comfortable expressing their own sparkle and shine.

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