First and foremost, my paper about indicator species got accepted!!! As this is my first first-author publication, this is an important milestone in the life of any scientist. All of the hours of fieldwork, data organization, data analysis, reading scientific papers… and now, I have contributed to scientific literature. What makes this success even greater is that this is a completed chapter of my dissertation. Over this past month, I have been working on finishing my research study that investigates the social component of the relationship between surface mining and ginseng, and I am submitting that within the week. This means I will be approximately ½ way through writing my dissertation (the main parts of it). With these two chapters done, and one almost finished, I am on track for graduation.
In other good news, my research was accepted for an ‘oral presentation’ at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) Conference this summer, in Baltimore. ESA is a great experience, because with my background of studying at three universities and working at several nature centers, ESA is a lot like ‘people Christmas!’ I will get to reconnect with all of these wonderful individuals I have had the privilege of meeting over the years. It will be great to listen to presentations about the latest science, all the while being close to my old stomping grounds of Baltimore. Somehow, I am going to have to balance the last summer of field work, writing, this conference, and maintaining a personal life.
For the third year in the row, I was awarded a "most productive graduate student award" for the WVU biology department. This is a huge honor, and only three awards are given out to doctoral students each year. It is nice to know my hard work is paying off.
Finally, I went to two galas this month!! Rarely do ecologists get to go to galas, but I am always ready to dress up and hit the town. My first Gala was for Eco-Myths in Chicago. It was fantastic getting to meet some people I have only e-mailed, and the whole night was a lovely toast to the environment. Two days later, I went to the Phipps Conservatory Tropical Forest Congo Gala…It was a blast being able to share my research and the awesome nature of the Botany in Action Program with those in attendance. Very atypical/glamorous month (to say the least), but next month, I will be in the dirt measuring plants, so it all comes out in the wash!