Monday, August 30, 2010

Scientiae carnival deadline EXTENDED

If you still want to write about your favorite science toys and tools, it's not too late! I'm extending the deadline to 11:59 pm on September 1. Please submit! I'd love to read more posts and there have only been a handful so far. The original call for posts can be found here.

My parents are coming to visit this weekend, but I'll try to have the carnival posted by Monday, September 6. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scientiae deadline coming up!

If you are interested in writing about your favorite gizmos and gadgets as a scientist, please contribute to Scientiae Carnival! I am hosting for September, and you can find the original call for posts here.  Anyone is welcome to contribute a post (or a comment if you don’t have a blog of your own). To submit posts to the carnival, please email the permalink URL of your post to scientiaecarnival [a] gmail [dt] com.

The deadline is Monday, August 30, 11:59 pm. Keep 'em coming!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Here I go again

I think I'm incapable of buying my plane tickets more than 3 weeks in advance of my trip. But! I've got them now. I leave in less than 3 weeks. It feels like it gets easier each time to get ready to go, and each time I think there are fewer things that I need to buy. This time I might be bringing nearly as many things for other people as for myself! I just really hope I don't have to pay excess baggage fees this time (but if I do, I'll know to ask for  receipt at the counter!).

I haven't even really made a list of things that I need to accomplish before I leave. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More than I needed to know about budgets

I just got out of a too-long meeting with someone from accounting because I was trying to figure out the best way to pay some research fees. The accountants went off on some waaaaaaaaaay looooooooong tangents, and as a result I know a LOT more about the financial woes of the world, country, state, university, college, and department. Yikes. Things are not looking good for grad students coming down the pipeline here at UBC. I'm very happy (and lucky) to have the security of a graduate research fellowship during this time.

However, I now have to pay taxes on more of my research money thanks to a minor language change. In a nutshell: Instead of getting reimbursed (which is not taxable), the money will go on my 1098-t, which, because my fellowship income is also reported on my 1098-t rather than a W-2, is mostly taxable income.

I also learned that it costs the department about $500,000 to hire a biology professor, and with the current distribution of overhead payments, it takes the university at least 10 years to recoup that startup from grant overhead. I had no idea. Talk about pressure to get big grants!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hello, Goodbye

This is the theme song of the day. New students are arriving, two lab members are leaving. It's bittersweet.

I'm spending the afternoon editing down a communication of research findings that is supposed to go to a lay audience but was 1300 words (2.5 pages). Short and to the point is what every communication workshop I've been to emphasizes. I've got it below 500 now. Almost there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rejected and ready to be home

My manuscript was rejected last week. That's a bummer. I haven't read all of the reviewers' comments yet but Sam doesn't seem discouraged, so that's good at least.

We're finally home from vacation. I was gone for 15 days (straight from the conference to the beach). We have two house guests who are already here, and we're having a going away party for one of them tonight. My friend Mariyah finished her degree and is going back to her home country. I'm really going to miss her.

I should be returning to Ukenzagapia in less than a month now, and have a crapload of things to figure out before I go. That said, getting ready to go to the field seems to be less hectic each time, which is nice. Nearly all of my equipment is already there so there's not much to buy or bring this time. Perhaps I should be starting to worry? But then I remind myself that worrying about work doesn't get work done. I just need to stay focused and work hard every day. I can do that.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Paperclips to particle accelerators

I have the great pleasure of hosting the Scientiae blog carnival for the month of September. I have been mulling over this month’s theme for more than a year now. During my first field season of data collection in 2009, I spent a lot of time thinking about my research equipment (including what would happen if it failed me) and wondered what types of tools other people rely on for their research. This is the time of year when students and teachers in the northern hemisphere return to school after summer vacation, which often means buying new school supplies. Although I know this may not be the "school supply" buying season for many Scientiae bloggers, I am interested in hearing what supplies you use in your research, teaching, and outreach. What things do you love in the lab? What are you lost without in the field? What computer programs make your life easier every day? What tools are indispensable? What is tried and true?

Your list can be as conventional or unconventional as you see fit to share. So, without giving your whole research agenda away, what are your favorite school supplies?

Anyone is welcome to contribute a post (or a comment if you don’t have a blog of your own). To submit posts to the carnival, please email the permalink URL of your post to scientiaecarnival [a] gmail [dt] com by 11:59 pm on Monday, August 30, UTC-11 (that’s American Samoa time). I will try to have the carnival posted on Thursday, September 2.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

ESA in photos

Here are a few photos from the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Pittsburgh. The convention center was gorgeous!

Ecologists chillin' between sessions

Exhibit hall with poster presentations and vendors

Walkway between two halves of the convention center (that's water falling down the sides and along the pathway)

This is a vertical planting that grew to create an impressive billboard.

Home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I haven't heard a bad thing yet about this stadium.

Hydroponics demonstration garden at the convention center. Big plants, no soil!
The roots just got bathed by dripping water and grew in the plastic housing.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Link love from ESA

Here are some cool projects I've learned about at ESA:

EREN: Ecological Research as Education Network- creating a structure for ecologists at primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) to collaborate on larger-scale projects

EcoSynth- this might be the coolest thing I've seen at ESA. The web page doesn't do it justice right now! You can use a remote controlled airplane with a digital camera to construct a 3D image of an area.

DataONE- an online repository for data and metadata.

eBird- enormous citizen science project in which anyone in the world can participate! They have thousands of people contributing every day! Wanna join?

Not a link, but I witnessed something that deserves a shout out. I saw a grad student give a talk with no slides and no notes with a 20-minute can-you-do-this-if-your-advisor-doesn't-show-up warning. The penalty for a no-show talk or poster is nothing to scoff at, but if someone else gives your talk you're off the hook. This woman gave her advisor's talk with basically no warning, and did a hell of a good job.

**Added August 7, 2010**
Gigapan- seriously awesome and interactive photography. Thanks for reminding me, Eugenie!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Have I mentioned I love conferences?

I'm having a great time at ESA meeting in Pittsburgh- me and 3,800 of my best friends!

The pros:
-The David Lawrence Convention Center is a great space. It's big enough that nearly all of the workshops and sessions (about 20 talks are going on simultaneously at any given time) are in the same building and it's relatively easy to navigate.
-I've seen folks from ecomath camp, the field station where I used to work, a guy from a summer internship I did ages ago, and even an ex-boyfriend from college.
-The dorm (=cheap accommodation) is an easy walk from the conference center.
-There are so many awesome talks and posters. Conferences get me excited about science, outreach, and education! I'm a session-hopper so I don't stay in one place for long.

The cons:
-I really should have done a poster or presentation. Next year I think I'll have enough for 3, but I can only do one. I should've gotten my act together!
-No internet or AC in the dorm where I'm staying. Also, our window only opens 4 inches and our door doesn't lock. It would have been helpful if they told us to bring an ethernet cable. It's not like I don't have one sitting at home doing nothing, but I certainly don't just carry one around with me! If I had that, I could be accessing the internet in my hot and humid dorm room instead of sitting here next to the window in the lobby budgeting out the free 2 hours of WiFiPittsburgh that I am allotted. No university wireless access for us :-(
-I ended up volunteering as a projectionist for a session that didn't have nearly as many interesting talks as I'd hoped, and I was useless as a volunteer because the session presider had it all under control so I just sat there. On the other hand, I will get my conference registration fee reimbursed, which is definitely awesome.

Hopefully some pics and more thoughtful posts will follow soon.