Resolutions of a student

As the New Year approaches, most start thinking of what is to come in the next year. As a grad student, you know that there will be few changes. You will still be TAing and working on your thesis (either through experiments, observations or writing, probably all three). You may be required to take a class to complete a program, or you may just choose to take one to further you knowledge. You may also be preparing for a conference.

I’m a field biologist so I’m thinking whether I’ll be able to head outside over the summer to look at nature. Since it is what I live for and my organisms of interest (insects, specifically damselflies for the moment) are most abundant in the warmer months here in Canada, winter is a difficult period for me. I’m not saying I don’t like winter; there is a lot to do and see, but there is not as much to see as in the summer. So I spend most of my winter days thinking and planning my summer.

This is my normal state of mind; mentally preparing for a new semester, and anticipating the joys of summer.

This summer will probably be different, because I have all my data so I’ll probably won’t be going out to collect insects. There may be a few holes in my data that will need to be filled in. On the whole, the reason to be outside will be either to do side projects or to lend a hand to people that are doing field work (maybe and hopefully both). Otherwise, I will be writing my thesis. Something I’m looking forward to but fear at the same time.

Anyway, I was going to talk about my ‘scientific’ resolutions.

1-      I would like to visit more habitat types to see how the animal communities differ and get a feel for habitats (I experienced grasslands in 2012; Picture 1). I would like to spend some time sitting in the grass or on a rock looking at things flying / walking around, doing their thing. I find by spending time and by slowing the pace of life, curiosity takes over and interesting evolutionary and ecological questions may arise.

409 tall grasslands with ticks

Remnant tall prairie grassland south of Winnipeg

2-      I would like to get more involved in nature photography, with my little but very trustworthy Canon G10 camera. I want to practice the art of nature photography because sometimes if you miss something while you are there, it may be captured on ‘film’ for later contemplation.

3-      I would like to see a Grylloblatid, maybe even collect one! Who wouldn’t want to see such a specialised insect? On the same note, I’d like to see an antlion larva… I saw an adult last summer in Alberta (Pic. 2), but they just see so cool as larva.

Antlion adult

Antlion adult

4-      Speaking of collecting, I resolve to collect flies active in winter on sunny (warmish) winter days. My treat for winter days. Along with Grylloblatids, there are interesting insects that brave the cold and have carved off a niche for themselves during the long winter months.

These resolutions are scientific, but will give me breaks while writing my thesis. As I was re-reading my list, I think it is more of a wish-list rather than resolutions. I guess that on a snowstorm-y day like today, imagining and planning to explore the world is all that I can do.  I’ve often been told that I have wander-lust. It’s definitely true, but I want to see and experience different places to get a better understanding of the world I live in. I have the heart of an explorer and curiosity rules my life. I don’t want to disappear into the wild; I intend to come back home with those experiences in mind and resolved to make the most of my life.

I wonder what 2013 has in store for me…

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