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.
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.
I like to think of STS as a Science Lifestyle Blog, or basically a mash-up of my two favorite types of blogs to read. This is a slice of life, outdoor travel essay. If you enjoy seeing this sort of content on the blog, please let us know!
The end of spring is always a busy travel time for me. The bulk of my dry season field work is done in July and August, so I often find myself traveling home or to fun destinations (thanks wedding season!) to celebrate and visit with friends and family in late May or early June. This year has proved no exception, as my husband and I spent two weeks traveling for various family events, squeezing in visits with friends and working on projects remotely along the way. If you’re interested in the full escapade, you can check the highlights on my Instagram. We are both on the introverted side of the scale, and after nearly two weeks of almost constant social interaction, even though it was tons of fun, we decided a break to recharge our batteries was in order. What better way to do that than to escape into the great outdoors?
We had originally planned to take our first couple’s backpacking trip, as D has never been backpacking and we have plans to go during part of our honeymoon next summer. However, by the time the end of our two week trip actually arrived, we were trashed tired. We also decided we really needed to be adults and get home a day earlier than we had originally planned due to work concerns. That left us only one night and a day. In the end, we opted to visit Yosemite National Park. D had never been, and I was itching to see the look on his face the first time we entered Yosemite Valley. Continue reading “National Park in a Day: Yosemite”→