Gigirose's comment on this post made me think about insights gleaned in down time. I'm not sure that I get many ideas when I'm baking bread, but I have gotten at least one. I just wish the project idea was actually for my project!
The other day I woke up extremely excited about a project idea that I originally thought of while I was in Ukenzagapia. It came to me in an "ah ha!" moment. I thought about it a little bit at the time, but not too much. For some reason, the other night I must have been dreaming about it, or thinking in my sleep or something.* I should say, though, that this project has absolutely, totally, nothing to do with any of the research pies I've got my fingers in. It's a different system, needs a different field site, and would be a complete change of direction. I'm not going to do it, or at least not anytime soon. I think I'll file it away for a later time. It might be a good one to do with undergrads if I end up at a teaching institution.
Anyways, I talked about it quite a bit with Jon on our way back from Canada. What I like about the idea I came up with is that I think it could provide impetus for more environmentally-friendly behavior change in people. I'm struggling a bit with my current research to tie it into change, or policy, or education. Of course it's important to understand more about the basics of ecology, but sometimes I get discouraged when I can't seem to make clear and pertinent connections. I'm trying to revisit my Ph.D. plan to see what is feasible, affordable, applicable, and exciting for me. This conversation with Jon about the relevance of this Eureka! project got me thinking and talking about what aspects of my real research I find exciting. I'm hoping to get some good ideas from this interdisciplinary conference about ways that my research can relate to broader issues and impacts.
*I did once do some calendar math in my sleep and suddenly woke up with a sudden realization about a birthday. It wouldn't be noteworthy except that I definitely did not know it when I went to sleep, figured it out in my sleep, and woke up knowing it.