Reflections of an English Summer
"You can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage and tangled Christmas tree lights"
On August 1st, 2018, I will start my new 1-year lectureship position at the University of the West Indies, Mona in Jamaica. I am excited to be teaching courses including Earth Environments, Environmental Change, and Climate Change in the Tropics. While I am there, I will also be developing a new research project with Dr. Mike Burn examining the impact of human settlement on the island.
As I prepare for this next big adventure and my time in England comes to a close, I have been thinking a lot about what I have learned, the life-experience I have gained, and the life-long friendships I have made that have set the course of the next stage of my life. There have been some pretty serious bumps and thumps along the way, but looking back, I wouldn't change any of it as our experiences shape who we are and how we see the world. For everyone who has been part of this journey, I thank you, I appreciate you.
Some of you know, Isadora (see: The Adventure of Isadora Rex) and I have had quite a busy past few months. In total, we have been on 18 planes in 10 countries since March. Funny enough, I have been caught in the rain in all of these countries, lost my luggage (only delayed once), and de-tangled fairy lights! Between the sun, rain, ambiance, and jet lag, I have been to 4 conferences, given 8 talks, and had 2 first author articles accepted in Nature Plants and Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (links will follow publication) in addition to several co-author publications. Over all, it has been an intense, fun-filled, action packed ride. So I thought I would share some of the Life-Hacks I have acquired thus far on my journey:
1. Get enough sleep: particularly for my comrades finishing your PhDs, try and sleep at least 7 hrs a night (thanks for this one Regi ;)
2. Eat well, particularly when traveling. I know it is not always feasible, but try and eat a good meal en route. I often pack my lunch and take it with me (e.g. hard boiled eggs are a great, protein rich snack). Remember what holds true in statistics, is true for our bodies: Garbage in, Garbage out. Upon arrival at your destination, repeat #1.
3. Packing Cubes have revolutionized my travel world. I cannot recommend them highly enough. An Absolute Travel Essential.
4. When working with intense deadlines, take frequent, short breaks e.g. the Pomodoro technique. This massively increases productivity and helps reduce brain fatigue.
5. For those of you with a visual eye, check out Grapher it is a great data visualizing program I am using for all my figures now.
6. Take time out from work everyday to do things you love (e.g. run, dance, play music, cook), again see #1 and 2. Also, adding a little ambiance (e.g. candles, fairy lights and flowers on the table) can really make you feel at home and savor the moment when on the road or working under rigorous deadlines.
7. Foster and nurture relationships. I am lucky enough to have found a family in my research team and am so grateful they have been around to share ideas, coffee, pints, missed flights, lost bags, over-stayed visas, good food, bad food, a few tears, and lots and lots of laughs.
8. Last but not least: Collaborate. Meet people, share your ideas, be willing to be part of a team. Be helpful and ask for help when you need it. Meet your science idols (they usually are not as scary as they seem). This mentality has led to so many amazing opportunities and really changed the way I think about interdisciplinary science and student mentorship.
Overall, my time in England has been formative, rewarding and monumental in shaping the trajectory of my career. Upon arrival in Jamaica, I plan to start a new series The Caribbean Chronicles detailing this next exciting chapter in the adventure book, so if you are interested in what Isadora and I are up to, stay tuned!
Until next time,
Live long and science on!