Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Where I've Been

Before I start writing up what I'm doing right now, here's a little recap of the last 18 months or so, to put my absence in perspective. Not the most exciting post, but it will put my forthcoming field season posts in perspective!

From October 2009 through March 2010, I wrote my preliminary proposal for my thesis project. Most people take their qualifying exam (aka "Quals") first, but I did things backwards. I'm wacky like that.

As part of my preliminary proposal, I spend a lot of time using GIS to select sites for my study. Since I'm comparing effects of landscape at different scales, site selection is a huge aspect of my project. In the end, I came up with 16 sites and two control sites, all blueberry fields in southern New Jersey. This took most of March.

On April 1st, I started training a field crew of five people, including myself. It was a good thing we started early, because last year was one of the earliest blooms on record for blueberry in this region. Our first day of data collection was April 15, which was already a few days into bloom; we were done with data collection on May 5. Short field season!

From May 6 or so right up to last month, I have been analyzing my data. Really. It's still ongoing, but I had to take a break from analyzing the data to collect more data, starting... probably next week. More on that to follow.

But, data analysis isn't all I do! (Although, it's most of what I do.) I also spent a few months studying for my quals (and passed, thank Darwin that's over!), gave a 10-minute talk at the Entomological Society of America meeting in San Diego last December, started writing a paper with my advisor, and have learned a bit of programming in R. I also got a great teaching gig that lets me teach only in the Fall semester, so I can focus on my field season in the spring. I've also learned to bake foccacia. Overall, it's been a busy 18 months!

I'll write more about the current field season soon, but in the meantime, here are some early-season critter photos. Enjoy!

Gorgeous green beetle.

Habropoda laboriosa male feeding on leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) flowers. Leatherleaf is one of the earliest blooms in this area, and hungry early-emerging spring bees were all over it!

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