2019: Quarter Two

Amazing undergraduates at ESA EB 2019

In my Oct-Dec update in 2018, I suggested that winter coming might be ‘restful’. As anyone who has done a PhD should know, and as I am beginning to learn, there is no time in an academic’s life that could be considered restful.

Still, my Oct-March went really well for being such a whirlwind. As far as some research updates, I have three first author papers current in prep (one in review), another three papers on which I am an author in prep (one in review), and several presentations under my belt – including an invited talk at Penn State Schuylkill as a part of their faculty research seminar. My Entomological Digest talk at the ESA Eastern Branch meeting won second place (!) and three of my undergraduate students gave posters/presentations, one of whom came in second in the BS/MS poster competition. The Social Insects in the North East Regions conference that I organized went off without a hitch – and it was so exciting to get to catch up with old and new science friends. I also got the first of my thesis data, which was relatively encouraging, and applied for four grants to help fund the research (I’ll hopefully be hearing back soon).

In addition, I’ve made some real strides in my ‘service’ world as Biology Graduate Student Association President – which is why this blog and some of my science communication has taken a small backseat. I’ve begun the process of organizing my department’s first scientific retreat (as a collaborative initiative with faculty) since I started my PhD. I’ve cleaned up and organized our student community spaces, including getting a lending library running, and pushed the Graduate Student Association at our school to set up an infrastructure grant program where graduate student organizations can apply for funds to improve their spaces and purchase equipment (microwaves, furniture, etc). We’ve started a website for our organization, and are putting together a welcome package with information for newly accepted students.

We also worked with our Graduate Program Committee, Department Chair, and Graduate College Dean to get a vacation policy in place for graduate students in our department. Finally, I feel I’ve made some strides establishing open lines of communication between some of the faculty and students in our department – and between students in different labs and cohorts. While these are not accomplishments that will show on my CV, being in a more collaborative and happier department matters to my personal sense of morality – I like to leave every community healthier than when I found it.

So what about moving forward? My big goals for this coming quarter (April to June) are to:

  1. Finish the review process for my two first-author papers on mannitol and D. melanogaster
  2. Finish gathering and writing up my erythritol data on ants
  3. Finish gathering and analyzing data on Centris pallida neuroanatomy
  4. Generate new materials for Bio 208 course revisions with Dr. Gurney
  5. Gather data on Centris pallida thermal tolerance
Me, in the field having a successful bee-catching day.

I’m really excited to be heading out to Arizona for my field season on April 3rd, which will give me some excellent time to catch up on reading and writing, while also getting some wonderful thermal data on my lovely Centris pallida bees!

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