As a first year PhD student, being a part of the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center is a spectacular learning opportunity. Each month, I’m able to participate in meetings and seminars, to learn about the work of other researchers and students, and to improve my own research and engagement. Being a student at the University of Minnesota and part of the NE CASC, I feel particularly fortunate to learn about work spanning both the Great Lakes states and the Northeast.
Do you recall playing a little game called tug-of-war as a child (or even as an adult)? If you were playing with one other person, you’d stand on one side, they’d stand on the other, with a rope held between you. You and your friend (or foe) would start tugging the rope and whomever pulled the other person over a line in the center would be declared the winner. Sometimes it’s muddy and sometimes it’s one group of friends versus another group of friends.
Today my colleague asked me, “are you going to test these sensors on a tree up in the mountains so you can go somewhere out-of-town?” My response was, “Nope, I’m putting them on trees at campus and at my house.” This colleague, an engineer who works in the basement of our building, looked at me like I was missing a grand opportunity. I had to explain more about why I’m psyched to work on city trees before he came around.
Many early-career scientists balance a multitude of roles when attending graduate school, from the heavy demands of coursework and research to teaching and thesis and dissertation writing, not to mention the added responsibilities of a job or career.
As we gear up for Women’s History Month, the Early Career Climate Forum and the Fisheries Blog are joining forces to highlight and build upon the personal stories of female researchers in our scientific networks by showcasing perspectives from the Department of Interior Climate Science Centers (CSCs).
Featured Science Moms
Graduate funding often matches the 9-month term that most professors hold, so not every graduate student has access to year-round funding. Perhaps you pick up a job at the local coffee shop, or maybe you move back home for three months, or maybe you have somehow saved enough money to have a white-knuckle penniless ride through JJA (that’s June, July, and August in climate-speak). However, did you know that there are numerous routes to funding your summer, while doing something you love AND forwarding your career?! We have listed some traditional and non-conventional methods here.
My interest in understanding the biological, cultural, and historical context of the human experience started at a very young age, and continues to this day. I am an environmental anthropologist, and currently an NC CSC fellow and PhD student in Ecology at Colorado State University. My training has been broad, and has allowed me to work in very different systems. I started down my career path working in Central Asia to understand the late Pleistocene biogeography of humans and Neanderthals during glacial and interglacial periods.
So, we’re in graduate school, ready to throw ourselves into a new chapter of life as “early career scientists.” Now what? We’re in a new world with endless possibilities and unknown limits - where do we even begin?
My first year in Fairbanks, AK I worked as a technician at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and spent much of the first few weeks of the academic year pestering any natural sciences professor that would listen to me.
“I don’t have any funding - come back with a question and maybe we can figure something out.”
On November 2nd and 3rd, the first ever National CSC Early Career Training was held at UMass Amherst. Over 2-days, students from across the U.S. heard about peer reserach ranging from butterflies in North Carolina, paleoclimatology along the Gulf Coast, to how wild berries are impacted by fire regimes in Alaska, along with so much more. In case you missed it, Andrew Battles wrote a short summary a few weeks ago.
The past three months have been the most hectic for me in quite awhile. In August, I started on the final stages of my dissertation, putting everything together to finish my Ph.D. All of it culminated right at the end of October with my defense. Thankfully for me everything came together, and I passed!! Yes, I was nervous and stressed out (and occasionally frustrated) in the weeks prior to my defense, but I didn’t lose my sanity. What got me through it? Three things: balance, support, and perspective.