Showing posts from January, 2021

A few precious hours

The snow in New England never lasts very long. Living so close to the ocean means that our winters are mild and our snow cover ephemeral. When the white flakes begin to fall, I know I only have a few hours until they inevitably metamorphose back to rain. But oh, those hours are glorious.  The drudgery of a pandemic winter is hard to escape, so I'm working on finding joy wherever I can. I actually recently heard a colleague describe scientific life as "alternating phases of euphoria and despair," and I cannot say he's wrong. The trick is to make the euphoria last as long as possible, while keeping the despair confined.  So today, like an adult child enjoying the few precious hours of New England snow, let's focus on those moments of euphoria.  - My lab has been asked to collaborate on a project that would take my research in a new direction. We're not sure if the methods will work, but part of the point of the project is to develop a reliable protocol. If it wo

Interesting times

"May you live in interesting times" - traditional Chinese curse It's early on a Saturday, and I am at my computer. I'm not even sure why - at this point, it's pretty much routine. I spend all day at this desk during the week, and I can no longer tell when it's the weekend. The longer I'm stuck at home, the more work and life blend together, making it impossible for me to shut off and relax.  Outside, the wind bends trees and threatens my lawn furniture. I can hear rain against the roof, walls, and windows. It's an appropriate metaphor for recent events, as the world around me gets stormier, stranger, and more chaotic. I am done with this pandemic - have been for months now. Add to that the escalating political news out of my nation's capital, and it's taking more and more of my energy to remember the difference between what I can and cannot control. I am fried, dear friends, so as the turbulent world rages outside, let's take a moment to fo


 "God willing, we'll all meet again in Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money ." - the movie Spaceballs Science is a constant search for money. Since I spend so much of my time applying for grants, I thought I should take some time to tell you what that process is like.  It always starts with an idea. Maybe that idea takes the form of a question, or an observation, or some funny result I got in the lab. I decide on something that is both interesting and important to investigate, and I set about writing. Usually at this stage, I draft about a paragraph or a page with my idea.  The next step is assembling a team. Some projects I'm capable of doing on my own, but most require collaborators. As some of you may know, I have ongoing collaborations with a maritime archaeologist, a coral geneticist, and colleagues in Germany and Norway. The one-page outline serves as a convenient way to share my idea and get feedback. There are meetings upon meetings until the whole team has