The Science Grind

Editor’s Note:  Today, we are thrilled to bring you a guest post by my very own sister, Sara Wigginton!  We look super similar, we also both study invasive plants, and her current lab studies an invasive wetland plant.  I know, it’s weird.  Regardless, she is a smart, funny ecologist, and Meridith and I are excited to share her words with you.

One of my favorite things about blogging is the ability to share the reality of my day to day life with you all.  Sara’s piece really gets to the heart of what the day-to-day as an ecologist can feel like.  Tell us your stories of the Science Grind in the comments section!

“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation”- Robert H. Schuller (A televangelist who said an insightful thing at least once.)

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Collecting invasive Phragmites in China


Some days I might be knee deep in a marsh, breathing in deeply the weird smell I’ve come to love, thanking my favorite deity (Mother Nature) that I don’t have a desk job.


Other days, I might be extracting DNA to sequence and haplotype, thinking it is so cool that I know how to do something called “haplotyping.”

I might even find myself traveling through China to collect the invasive plant I study in its native range. And spending time talking to local people who cannot understand why I would be collecting this useless plant.

But today. Today, I’m counting freaking pollen grains. My eyes hurt. My heart hurts a little too. I turn on my audiobook, turn off my brain, and recite the mantra, “This paper is going to be awesome. This paper is going to be awesome. This paper is going to be awesome.” Which eventually devolves to, “One more slide and I’ll take a break. One more slide and I’ll take a break.”

I know all researchers can relate to this feeling. Grinding out the tedious, but necessary, data collection and hoping (but trying not to hope) something is significant.

I feel you. You are not alone. Back to the grind.*

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Pretending to get attacked by invasive Phragmites in CA, USA.


*“Back to the Grind” as defined by the Urban Dictionary: “Back to the Grind, is the phrase that all hustlers know. It means going back to the job at hand. We all have Grinds out there. It doesn’t matter if you are doing the corporate grind (in a cubicle), if you are a MC workin on an album, if you are on the block moving work, if you are hitting the books to get the grade you want. It doesn’t matter.Life is a grind.If you are living the Life that YOU WANT…you have to be on Your Grind…if not, you’re living the life that Someone is dictating for you!”


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