We are so excited to be back on the STS blogging train and are grateful to have so much support and enthusiasm from everyone that checked out our posts or various social media pages. To keep the momentum going, we want to bring back an ancient (like 5 years, y’all) type of post we both had on our personal blogs before combining forces. We will be compiling cool videos, articles, pictures, etc. covering multiple disciplines and posting them on the last Thursday of every month. We will post many of these as we find them on our Twitter or Tumblr pages, so check us out there if you don’t want to wait. Whenever we find something that makes our day, we’ll save it so we can make yours too.
At various points along your PhD journey it can seem like life ceases to exist beyond your pile of papers, monitors full of code, or wall of caffeine. Sometimes it may be hard to find the time to venture outside your office, let alone your town, state, province, country, etc. In this and many other regards, the academic life is not without its stresses and pitfalls, but the opportunities to travel for conferences and research are some of the best parts. The bi-annual International Statistical Ecology Conference (ISEC) has been on my radar for some time, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to extend a trip to St. Andrews, Scotland into a full fledged honeymoon around the Scottish highlands. According to my twitter profile, I’m often a traveler, and I think I’ve developed a few good packing practices I would love to share with all of you.
Nearly five years after my last European adventure, I’m once again packing my trusty 60L pack and jetting off, only this time with my darling husband accompanying. When packing for this trip there were several considerations at the forefront of my thought process. I knew how I packed for my 3 month long European trip 5 years ago thanks to this previous STS post. While I ended up packing a few of the same items (!!), this trip has a different focus and thus different packing needs. First, I needed conference clothes as well as clothes for hiking and exploring and I wanted to look super cute as often as possible because I am a proud fancy scientist.
Luckily, since I am so used to packing for research/camping related trips, I am not disappointed by the lack of space for super cute clothes. ~ Meridith circa 2013. My, my how I’ve changed.
Next, I wanted to pack a few things to help reduce my carbon footprint while traveling (even though flights are a big one! Two quick links about carbon offsets: why and Rachel’s recommendation for where to buy). Finally, while we aren’t truly backpacking, I did need to consider weight. Admittedly my packed ended up way heavier than I anticipated, and as I’m writing this post I’m noticing some areas where I could maybe, sort of, perhaps packed less. A thought I will not admit to my husband. Ever. My pack is perfect.
Note: I originally published this article in the 4th volume of The Brickyard, the graduate student publication edited and put together by a group of folks in the UC Davis Grad Group in Ecology. You can find a link to that publication here, and the article below is largely the same. I’ve made a few minor changes and conjugated the title in a more pleasing way. I hope you like it!
On the fourth day of the new presidential administration, I got an email from my funding source saying they didn’t know if the money would keep coming. I knew the attitude toward science would shift with the change in power, but I never expected such concrete impacts to my life within the first week. When my paycheck did come two weeks later, I knew I had to change my approach. I wanted to feel I was working to make things better, and if I experienced a near miss, it’s almost certain someone else had taken the hit. Like any good type A personality, I knew what I really needed was a plan.
I read a lot of think pieces, I talked to a lot of folks I respect, and, in the end, I developed an approach that felt right for me. I offer you my own guidelines now, not as prescription, but as an attempt to empower you to make a plan for how you will approach the coming years. Interrogating my own motivations and priorities was emotionally taxing, time consuming, and frustrating. Inventorying my special skills required grappling with imposter syndrome for the millionth, and I’m sure not last, time. I still haven’t gotten over the daunting size of the issues we face, but as Cairns and Crawford once wrote, “It is almost too late to start, but tomorrow is even later.”