Friday, September 25, 2009

Just showing up

Janus Professor wrote a post about the importance of just showing up. That's my strategy for this year at BNHM- I'm just showing up. I'm coming every Friday, even if it's just for a little while, so that I can make my presence known to the museum-types.

Good things seem to come from just showing up. Nearly every time I come I meet some interesting visitor who has insight or wisdom to offer. Today I met another researcher who worked at Nyota and was just passing through Big City. It spawned an interesting discussion about some different types of data that could be useful for my analysis.

Today I also had a long talk with another scientist who works in Ukenzagapia about my research. He's worked with critters, so I was hoping to get some ideas from him about a more feasible project. We talked about my "ideal project" and why I don't think it's going to work, or at least why it's not worth the risk (in terms of time, money, and data). Unfortunately, we mostly talked about the possibilities with other critters instead because he agrees with my assessment of the time/effort/expense issues with critters.

I feel like I'm at a point in my Ph.D. where I need to reassess not only what I can realistically do, but also think long and hard about what I want to do. There is no shortage of possibilies for projects in Nyota, but I've got to do something and I'd prefer if I enjoyed it. I have to think about what I want short-term (during my Ph.D.) and long-term (my career) because it may change some of the decisions I make in terms of what I choose to focus on. For example, I don't think I actually want to travel as much now as I did when I decided to apply to grad school. I'm not sure I'll want to continue doing a lot of field work abroad after my Ph.D.

At another level, I need to think about what I enjoy doing in the field (costs aside, for a moment). To use my scuba diving analogy, I don't want to commit to a project that requires scuba diving every day if I much prefer snorkeling. Or do I actually like sitting on a boat and counting whales? Or recording their songs? Or sampling the krill that they eat? I think I could be happy doing any of those things, as long as I felt like I was actually doing something that would result in useful data in a reasonable timeframe.

1 comment:

Chrissy said...

Take it from a whale person...that "useful data in a reasonable timeframe" is hard to come by in my field, too. I'm in my third year and have had one project flop already. My second idea is better, but still having some issues getting off the ground.

That said... I love doing what I do (most of the time) and wouldn't switch fields for the world. :)