As Abstract Season is underway (I have so many conferences I’m considering this year!) I thought it’d be a smart idea to finish up recapping some of my 2018 experiences. As part of my flurry of travel last semester I spent November 8 – 9 attending the Explore Neon Workshop at NEON’s headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. Looking back, I’m still shocked that so much information and guidance was conveyed in just two days! Myself and several other graduate students traveled to NEON, learned how to access and work with NEON data, and interacted with NEON science staff. I really enjoyed working with data alongside a group of ecologists/botanists/biologists/etc (no shade, statisticians, but ecologists will nerd out with me about nature AND data).
What is NEON?
The National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental-scale ecological observation facility that collects and provides open data from field sites across the US. This project has been in the development and planning stages for several years and is now shifting into the beginning of its 30+ years of monitoring producing consistent, comparable, high-quality data. The ultimate goal is to collect data that can characterize and quantify how ecosystems across the 20 ecoclimatic domains are changing.
I have been really busy the last several weeks working on writing my dissertation and preparing to teach an Introduction to Ecology course. All the time spent staring at my computer has me daydreaming about all the hours I have spent doing field work over the course of my PhD. I flipped through some half finished blog posts and journal entries form that period, and found the start of the story I’m about to tell you. I was instantly transported back to that day, which was memorable but also pretty representative of how most of my field days went. Some of this is certainly Type II Fun.
Sometime in August of 2016…
I wake up before the sun has inched its way above the horizon, and fumble to turn off my alarm as quickly as possible. At the foot of the bed, my dog whines softly. My husband, Daniel, turns over and away from me in his sleep. In my non-field season life, I often hit the snooze button. I know it’s not good for my brain, or whatever, but I don’t care. I love it. During the field season, my alarm is set so uncomfortably early most days, 4:00 am or maybe 4:30, that snoozing seems masochistic. Also, it’s a little rude to the sleeping partner and pup. Besides, when you’re racing the tides, time is always of the essence. So, instead of rolling over for five more minutes of sleep, I roll out of bed and try to land on my feet. The cat judges me from Daniel’s pillow.
Welp, that title is actually a bit of a misnomer. I really have about 4 more days of field work that I need to knock out over the next week or so. DETAILS. I know I wrote a lot recently about how stressful the summer can be for me. It’s my busiest time of the year, field work is exhausting, and I probably don’t get enough alone time to really recharge (#introvertprobs). But, more than any of those less positive things, I really love how much time I get to spend outside each field season. I know I really like it, because I take about a zillion obnoxious iPhone pictures in the marsh each summer.
For your enjoyment, here is the view of my summer, from my smart phone.