It is only Wednesday but a lot has happened this week. My mom and sister came to visit on Sunday so we used their car to do a HUGE (>$200) grocery shopping trip and drop off recycling. The timing for their visit was perfect and we had a good (but short) visit.
I spent almost all of Monday agonizing over a 10-minute PowerPoint presentation for Tuesday. I realized it has been a long time since I have done a strictly timed PP presentation. I'd forgotten how long it takes to prepare for 10 stinkin' minutes! I was seriously freaking myself out about it on Monday night after I did a terrible runthrough for Jon where I couldn't could find the words concisely. Then I sat down and had a little mental chat for myself where I said to myself, Karina, every week you stand in front of 50 kids and talk about stuff you don't know nearly as much about for 40+ minutes. Have confidence that you will find the words and you will. Do not be intimidated by your audience! STOP FREAKING OUT! So I did. My presentation was fine. I'm glad to have that finished.
On Tuesday I talked to Herb about my schedule for next semester and I proposed Leo's idea of me going to Neotropical Field Site this summer with Herb instead of African Field Site. Herb seemed to think the idea was definitely worth considering but we'll have to play it by ear. His grant money will be really stretched to pay station fees and get people there so there won't be any money for stipends (I wasn't counting on it). Really there are still so many things up in the air, but it is good to know that I have options. It would make my life 1000 times easier if I get the NSF GRF. Herb also thinks I should try to publish my review paper in Taxonomically Specific Journal so I'll be pursuing that soon.
Tuesday night I graded about 90 lab reports. Ai! I had to grade two week's worth of labs for my students. I didn't write as many comments or read as closely as usual because most of the students won't even come to pick up their labs. Today one of my students asked me to write a letter of recommendation for a graduate program she's applying to. I suppose this will be the first of many reference letters I write. I still need to look at the information about this letter to make sure I really can write about this student. I'm somewhat flattered to have been asked since I'm just her TA, but then again there really isn't anyone else from this course who could write a letter for her.
Today I went to Big Natural History Museum to talk to Leo more and replace my access badge which they accidentally canceled a few weeks ago, thus prohibiting my access to the staff area.
I really enjoy talking to Leo because it is obvious that he loves his job. He loves doing fieldwork in Africa, loves leading trips for the museum, loves interacting with non-scientists in his work, and loves the collections. He's always showing me random photos, books, or specimens. We talk about a lot more than just my research. I was bit disorganized today because I usually come with a long list of questions for him but not today so I kept forgetting what I wanted to talk to him about.
While talking about my research with Leo, we uncovered a question about my system which prompted an email to a scientist who works at African Field Site. She replied right away with news I definitely didn't want to hear: in the 2+ decades she has been working there, she recalls the tree I want to study fruiting only two or three times. Eek! But as Leo pointed out, I haven't a single hour of fieldwork invested in this project so I shouldn't despair. There's no reason why I can't find another tree to work with. And all hope isn't lost on this one yet since this person isn't a tree expert.
Before the semester ends I have to do a LOT of homework for Chip's class (Pop Ecol), submit an university travel assistance application for summer fieldwork, submit a grant proposal, and submit a National Geographic Young Explorers grant proposal. I'm worried that these proposals won't be spectacular but I think I have to give them a shot because these particular opportunities come once a year or never again. On top of that I have to prepare to part with my computer for a while sometime in the next month because I have to send it away for a minor repair before my AppleCare expires. Never a dull moment.