Sunday, November 1, 2009

Queries for an ecologist

I mean queries of the Quaker kind, not the programming or database kind. I feel the need for some directed self-reflection at this stage in my graduate career, so I decided to write some queries for myself. These are open-ended questions; hopefully the process of answering them will help me determine what my priorities are.

What satisfies and sustains me in my work?
What do I find most rewarding in my fieldwork?
What types of problems do I want to solve?
How can my research be applied to solve a problem?
What are the linkages between my research and conservation?
What type of ecologist do I aspire to be?
What are my fears related to my Ph.D.?
What things overwhelm me and why?
Am I getting tired of traveling? Or of doing research abroad? If so, why?

Specifically related to leading foreign study programs:
What are my strengths and weaknesses as a leader?
How will leading a program change the course of my Ph.D.?
How will I manage my research as a program leader?
What skills will I need to develop to be successful in that endeavor?

To the extent that I can do so anonymously, I will answer them on this blog. I think it's a good way for me to force myself to explore the answers to these questions.


EcoGeoFemme said...

Sounds like a great exercise!

I was thinking about your post from a few weeks ago where you talked about how the field work your doing now will shape the direction of your future research program. I was thinking about the difference between people who focus on mechanisms vs. organisms or ecosystems. Like, the difference between considering yourself a critter expert vs. an expert in the functions they perform. Or the difference between being a Nyota specialist vs. and expert in whatever process it is that your studying. Depending on what you choose, you'll be tied to doing field work abroad or you'll be able to transfer your research questions to local field settings. Or a combination of those.

I'm not sure if that's relevant to your queries, but I've been thinking about that post ever since you wrote it.

Professor Chaos said...

Hi Karina--

I've been meaning to stop by for a while and leave a comment. I've been following your tales of doing fieldwork abroad and I have a huge amount of respect for what you're trying to do. Fieldwork is hard enough without dealing with ATM fraud, language issues, etc. When things get difficult, just keep in mind that it's not that anything's wrong with you. It's just hard!!! (Now that I've read what I've written, I'm not sure it sounds as encouraging as I meant it to be!!)

Karina said...

Thanks Prof Chaos! I appreciate the encouragement. I'm glad you're reading :-)

EGF, I've been thinking about the things you mention too. It kind of came up last summer when UBC wrote an article about me calling me the "critter lady" or something like that. The further I get into this line of research, the less comfortable I feel when people call me a "critter person." We'll see how that shakes out I guess.

Albatross said...

Great questions, Karina!

With many of your questions and the one EGF mentions, what I've been struggling with is how to put the answers to questions like these into actions that are clear on your cv...and to say, a search committees. Or what to do when they don't particularly line up. I see myself as question driven, but I've always worked on one set of critters so it would be easy to interpret me as a critter-based person.

Can't wait to hear your answers and think more about this end of the issue!