Now that I’m not in the field these updates are getting a little harder to write. I officially have a “desk job,” and there isn’t much exciting about it on a week-to-week basis. For those of you who are wondering, the introgression manuscript continues to make progress. I’m starting to be a little less stingy with some of the results now that the analysis is complete and I’m confident that the numbers are correct. But, I’m not putting anything into writing until the manuscript has been vetted against all the important people that are above me in the academic food chain.
Last week, I did get a chance to get out from behind my computer. But, instead of hitting the streams of Loyalsock, I traded my office chair for a seat in a kindergarten classroom. My advisor, Ty, asked me to help him put on a short demonstration for the kindergarteners at the local elementary school. Having really minimal experience with kids, and a lot of uncertainties about our ability to keep the fish alive and well for a few hours, there was a lot of doubt on how this was going to go off.
But, it was a lot of fun. Kindergarteners make the best amateur fish biologists. They still find slimy things cool, aren’t afraid to touch everything, and ask some of the best questions.
“Do fish have bones?”
“Will it eat my finger?”
“What do fish drink?”
“Why does it have spines?”
“Why is he puffing his cheeks out?”
“Why are those lobsters fighting each other?”
Okay, so maybe we didn’t explain the ID for crayfish all that well. But, these endless questions reminded me of why I got into science in the first place. I can ask a question about this thing I don’t know much about, and someone will have the answer. And, if they don’t have the answer, I can go find it out for myself.
Obviously science gets much complex than kindergarten queries. And, science is down right hard sometimes. Long hours, lots of confusion, lots of times you feel stupid and wrong. But, those hardships only become true burdens when you start asking questions that don’t excite you. It’s easy to hate science when you study something that you, deep down, don’t care to know the answer about. It doesn’t help that the scientific process is sometimes riddled with extraneous steps that can keep you from pursuing your curiosities.
So, deep breath. Step back.
I’m just out here, trying to ask and answer questions that get me excited. To that end, I’m making a new rule. When my face stops looking like that of the girl’s above- sheer excitement, curiosity, and wonder, I’m quitting.
(If you’ve seen me net a large trout, you know I’m nowhere close to quitting.)