A busy semester
I recently posted on Twitter about how I am tracking my productivity so I can make annual reviews easier to fill out. In compiling my spreadsheet, I realized that I have done a lot in 6 months! Here are some highlights of what has happened since I started my position at Georgia Southern:
The semester started out with a trip to New Orleans to present a poster at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology conference. This poster represented a lot of work that Colorado State University undergraduates Meghan and McKenna helped me with, and with a little more tweaking we hope to get it published soon. While in NOLA, I had a little fun on a tour of the Garden District with some graduate students in Steve Deban's lab! Of course I also made sure I tried the beignets from Cafe Du Monde!
Once I got back, I immediately began teaching my first class. It was a non-majors biology lecture with 230 students. I administered a pre- and post test that is part of the departmental assessment, and I also provided extra credit for the students to participate in Dr. Amanda Glaze's evolution survey for undergraduates. I gave this as a pre- and post test as well so Dr. Glaze and I can assess how I taught this topic. Since I will be teaching the same class again in the Fall, this gives me an idea of how I can improve the course.
While I spent A LOT of my time developing lectures, giving lectures, providing office hours, and grading assignments and exams, I also participated in service opportunities as well as began to get my lab running.
I participated in 2 new faculty searches. If you're not aware what this involves, it means reading applications to decide on a short list, doing phone/skype interviews for these candidates, choosing a shorter short list of candidates to invite for campus interviews, hosting them for 3 days on campus, and agreeing (among all 35 or so faculty) on a top choice. The hosting part involves airport transport as well as hosting meals, a seminar, one-on-one meetings, and a department-wide social. My involvement differed for each candidate, but it was still a lot of work!
I gave two talks to Biology undergraduates, one for the Honors seminar class and one for the Tri-Beta Honor Society. This was in part to try to recruit students to work in my lab. I was successful, and now have 5 undergraduates contributing to my research and outreach (Emily, Elizabeth, Alli, and Abby shown below)! All of them want to continue on through next academic year.
I haven't just been working with undergraduates. I have also provided thesis feedback for at least 3 GSU graduate students directly, at least 1 of which I am on their thesis committee (maybe 2, I haven't been formally asked). I have also been working with Kassie Ford, a PhD student at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette who will be visiting the lab in the summer to do some feeding biomechanics with weakly electric knifefish (example below)!
I have also been thinking about my own graduate students and have recruited a few MS students to start in the Fall. More on that later.
I met with 3 seminar speakers in one-on-one meetings and hosted Dr. Andrew Clark as a seminar speaker (announcement I made shown below). He always gives amazing talks and the department enjoyed having him!
I re-submitted a manuscript describing the guppy kits to American Biology Teacher. It should be in print any day now! Also, the book where I contributed a chapter, Evolution Education in the American South, is now in print! I couldn't stop reading everyone else's chapters when I got the PDF proof! I highly recommend this book if you are interested in teaching Evolution, even if you're not teaching it in the south.
I participated in the March 2017 Bio Blitz, an effort to document all vertebrate species that occur on campus. I was on Team Fish, of course, and it was my first time seeing many of the things we caught, including siren (a 2-legged fully aquatic salamander)! The diversity on campus is stunning, last I heard they have documented just over 200 species!
As you probably also noticed, I redesigned my website. I wanted to make it more about the lab and less about me. I also wanted to spruce up the look and make it more professional.
Perhaps one of my most substantial accomplishments has been getting the research lab started. My first year of start-up funding has to be spent out in the next few weeks, so I have been making lots of purchases. Not only have I been able to pay several students for their time in the lab, but I have also bought lots of equipment such as some heavy duty motion analysis software, a swim tunnel with respirometry equipment, 2 high speed cameras (plus one that I brought with me makes 3 in the lab), a 3D printer, tanks for recirculating systems that I built, microscopes, and a backpack electrofisher. I've also registered for the Evolution conference this summer and a PIV course (a technique for visualizing water flow) in the fall offered by LaVision.
A substantial effort (and funds) has also gone into starting my research program. The guppy work has taken off and is now leading the way through my next few years. This has involved acquiring guppies from Trinidad (a post is still in the draft stage), getting them housed in the recirculating systems (for the research project) and in the breeding tanks (for the guppy kit outreach program), designing protocols and training personnel on guppy husbandry (we get to learn how to sex baby guppies this week!), updating and learning how to use the high-speed cameras using near IR light instead of visible light (to minimize disturbance to the guppies), and determining a feasible prey type to use during filming. This last one still isn't quite right. I also finally got a photo of Undergraduate researcher Lydia, below in the red shirt.
If that wasn't enough, I provided advice for 2 colleagues who are also starting their labs, by describing the equipment and setups I have ordered and used. It's not an easy task and I wish them success in their new labs! I'm looking forward to potential collaborative opportunities as we discuss some of our ideas further.
Finally (though it's not really the end), I have made some headway in transferring the guppy kit program to GSU. Dr. Amanda Glaze and I will be recreating this program to utilize it in south Georgia. See more about this program here!
BUT, every scientist is also a person, and I also did a lot of cool things outside of work too. Some of them walk a fine line between work and play, but nonetheless, here they are:
My dad visited! He lives in an RV and we never really know what his plan is, so it's always a nice surprise when he's in town! I took him to campus and showed him my new lab! He has a signature photo pose and we know he's sick if he's not wearing a Harley t-shirt:
My good friend and colleague Jeff Olberding came to visit and see my new house and new lab! He painted me a housewarming present (that has ended up in my office). It's a silver-spotted sculpin, which I studied during my PhD.
I was also able to squeeze in a visit to University of South Florida to join Jeff for his dissertation defense! He did an amazing job and it was nice to see him and his labmates before he heads off to a postdoc. I livetweeted his defense in case you missed it. While I was in Tampa, I treated myself to a visit to the Tampa Aquarium, where the highlight included many fish that most people think are ugly, like batfish, toadfish, scorpionfish, and sculpins (ok so I have a type)!
Another faculty member at GSU, Dr. Dave Rostal, completed his Bachelor's of Fine Arts and I attended his art show to highlight his works. Of course, most of them are inspired by his love of fossils and herpetology! I was incredibly impressed by his sculptures and so glad to see such strong support from the Biology Department! Look at all those women in STEM in the middle picture!
Of course, we wouldn't be living in Statesboro if we didn't explore Savannah. My husband and I have been to the coast a few times and have discovered some amazing restaurants, like The Wyld, which is right on the saltmarsh! I commented that it smelled like lunch and marine biology. The food was amazing and this will likely be one of our regular stops.
Most recently, my husband, the dogs, and I finally made it out to Magnolia Springs State Park for a weekend hike! I do miss that part of being in Colorado. It's nice being able to explore the natural areas in my new home.
When people ask what I've been up to, the easiest answer is to say "I've been busy with teaching and research" and I tend to think the progress has been slow. But when I reflect on what I've actually done, I can't believe I've fit so much into such a short time!
This is the life of a new college professor.