Friday, August 3, 2018

Tromsø

He was leaning against the open door at the top of the stairs, wearing sandals, shorts, and an untucked shirt. His arms were crossed, and he was smiling. I smiled back. 

"Hi Paul." I climbed to the top of the stairs and followed him to his office. Once I had a chance to set down the box I was carrying, he gave me a warm hug. 

Friends, one of the great joys of my life as a traveling scientist is being welcomed by friends and colleagues across the world. Paul is an Arctic biologist who I collaborated with when I lived in Norway. I took his Arctic Benthic Ecology class at the University Centre in Svalbard in 2015, and he is a co-author on two chapters of my dissertation. He is a good scientist and a great mentor, and I was glad to see him again. 

Views like this are one of the many reasons I love this city.
The topography and the cloud cover make me keenly aware
of the 3D space around me.
I am currently in Tromsø, Norway, a city above the Arctic circle. I pass through here a lot on my way to research expeditions, but I've never stayed for long. Tromsø is an absolutely gorgeous place with mountains, a fjord, and top-notch research institutions, and it's a place that I very much enjoy being. This time, I came north to pick up samples that were collected for me on a research expedition, and I used the chance while I was in town to connect with collaborators. 

After bidding farewell to Paul, I headed to the University of Tromsø. A researcher whose work thematically overlaps with mine had recently taken a position there, and I was eager to meet her. I had been reading and citing her research papers for years, and when I found out she was in at UiT, I e-mailed to ask if she could meet. As it turns out, she had been reading my papers too. In fact, we discovered we had each independently begun researching the same scientific question about larval dispersal in Svalbard, but we were using different methods to do so. We agreed to share results and see if our studies showed similar patterns. I'm very excited to see what we find. 

I absolutely love the Arctic. There are so many critical and interesting research questions to be answered in the north, and I am grateful for the chance to maintain my connections with other Arctic researchers in Tromsø.
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